The Book that Teaches You When to Quit (And When to Stick)
If our endeavors can be put on a timeline, you will know when to quit and
when to stick.
Goal #1: Be the best in the world – if you believe that
you can do this with time, learning, and effort, then you will survive the dip.
If not, it may be time to quit.
Here’s the dip:
Competition and “paying your dues” is time spent “in the dip.” Competition’s
job is to make “The Dip” as long as possible so that you eventually quit before
you’re able to peak.
But there are times when you won’t peak. Here they are:
The Cliff: quick growth and success in almost a linear fashion, leading to
instant expertise and amazing returns. But, well, the bottom drops out.
The Cul-de-Sac – the safe choice that never drops off but never peaks,
either. This is what you do if you don’t think you can be the Best in the World
If you want big rewards in life, quitting these trends is important. Things
to ask yourself, however, before you quit:
- Am I panicking? We get emotional sometimes and have to calm down. It may not
be a cliff or a cul-de-sac. You might just be in the dip and you’ll see it
clearly if you calm. The best quitters are the ones who decide in
advance that they’re going to quit.
- Who am I trying to influence? If you’re trying to influence just one person,
persistence has its limits. If it’s a market, you’ll have a better chance.
Sergey Brin: “We knew that Google was going to get better every single day as we
worked on it, and we knew that sooner or later, everyone was going to try it. So
our feeling was that the later you tried it, the better it was for us because
we’d make a better impression with better technology. So we were never in a big
hurry to get you to use it today. Tomorrow would be better.”
- What sort of measureable progress am I making? Take emotions out of it.
Sticking with something in the absence of such measurable progress is a
How do you decide in advance when to quit? Ultramarathoner Dick Collins says,
“Decide before the race the conditions that will cause you to stop and drop out.
You don’t want to be out there saying, ‘Well, gee, my leg hurts, I’m a little
dehydrated, I’m sleepy, I’m tired, and it’s cold and windy.’ And talk yourself
into quitting. If you are making a decision based on how you feel at the moment,
it’s probably the wrong decision.”
Pick your dip: If you try something too big or too loud for the resources you
have, you will get lost. You can’t create pressure enough to reach the dip.
“You’re astonishing. How dare you waste it. . . How dare you settle for
mediocre just because you’re busy coping with too many things on your agenda,
racing against the clock to get it all done. The lesson is simple: if you’ve got
as much as you’ve got, use it. Use it to become the best in the world, to change
the game, to set the agenda for everyone else.”