I’m not necessarily talking about quitting a job.
I’m talking about quitting activities that don’t produce results, and might never produce results. It could be a job that isn’t producing the right results, but it doesn’t have to be.
Being the Best in the World at Something
Seth Godin sets the bar high in his book The Dip. Not only does he tell us that anything worth doing will require some serious effort and will always be accompanied by resistance, but he also tells us that it’s not worth doing if you can’t be the best in the world at it.
In other words, if you can’t be the best in the world at something, you should quit.
The tricky part is defining ‘the world.’ The world doesn’t necessarily mean the whole earth. It could mean the local community or state, or a particular niche in a community or state, or a particular athletic league in that local community.
But if you’re doing it, and you don’t care to be the best in your world at it, then is it really worth doing?
If you do want to be the best, then by all means, keep at it.
We Will Always Be Asked if We Really Want to Be the Best in the World
That’s where the dip, as Godin calls it, comes in: The Dip (let’s personify it) walks up to you with a question: “Are you sure you want to be the best in the world at this endeavor? If so, then put on your big boy (or girl) pants because it’s about to get a lot harder… and a lot more fun.”
The Dip challenges us by taking tasks from being easy to being more difficult. It’s where the naturally gifted high school athlete goes to the top 10 college football program and realizes he can’t skate by on his natural athleticism anymore. He’s going to have to work if he’s going to be the best.
The Dip forces us to commit to doing the things that being the best requires… or settle for mediocrity. Early mornings. No video games or TV. Clean eating. Making the calls.
Should You Quit if You Can’t Be the Best in the World?
Maybe. Maybe not.
While it’s true that if your goal is to be the best NBA player in the world and you’re a 5’4″ 53 year old man, then you might want to toss in the towel. Go find a local recreation league and work on being the best in the world there.
When I first started thinking about this post on ‘quitting’, I thought it’d be about deciphering whether our work fits our skills and passions while fulfilling a need in the marketplace.
But as I’ve thought more deeply about it, I’ve come to this conclusion: It’s less about actually being the best in the world, and more about being willing to do the things that are required to be the best in the world.
You might not ever actually be the best in the world (a mushy measurement, anyway), but if you push through the dip that tries to prevent your goal, then you will be in the top 5% or 10%.
So if it’s feasible for you to be the top of your market. And if it’s something you want to do, then don’t quit. Treat your top competition as a part of the Dip’s challenge. Even if you never achieve ‘Best in the World’ status, you’ll still breathe very rare air.
Even if You Don’t Quit… You Still Should Quit
Being the best in the world might require unmatched persistence, but it also requires a practice of quitting.
You should quit everything that hinders you from being the best in the world at the endeavor you clearly defined.
You should do the following (as I should… dang it if this topic doesn’t hit home with me):
- Define what you want to be the best in the world at
- Clarify the fewest possible activities that will get you there
- Stop doing everything else
- Trim the activities down even further.
- Stop doing more stuff
- Keep going through The Dip
In the end, you quit stuff because that stuff is preventing you from doing the most important stuff. Period.
My Action Item Today: List out everything that I’m currently doing, and start axing the things that aren’t helping me become the best in the world at the thing I’ve chosen to be the best in the world at.
In case my opinion got lost in the weeds:
Quit if you don’t want to be the best in the world at something. And quit any activity if it hinders your goal of being the best.
How can you tell when you need to quit something? (Answer in the comments)
Today’s Reading and Listening
The Dip by Seth Godin
This book, so far, has been my favorite Godin book. I’m not sure if I’m capturing his points exactly, but it’s definitely a game-changer for me.
How to Work From Anywhere and Create Freedom in Your Business with Chris Ducker – School of Greatness Podcast, Lewis Howes.
Stop what you’re doing and go listen to this podcast to find the “3 Lists of Things” section of the interview. I’ve heard Chris Ducker (author of the newish book Virtual Freedom) share this exercise before. It’s a perfect place to figure out where you need to start quitting.
(Amazon affiliate link for The Dip and Virtual Freedom)