No, not a movie review, but a book review.
So, I’ve been reading more lately, which is great. And, I’ve been doing my best to read fiction and non-fiction.
Sadly, I haven’t been quite able to review it all, thanks to a brutal personal schedule that often has me out late several days in a row, just to try and squeeze in all the work and personal things to make me feel less alone. So, while I intended to review this over the weekend, I’m just getting to it now.
In any case, I got The Dip by Seth Godin some time ago and read it just recently. I got it because I wanted to read a book by the famous Seth Godin and, frankly, this one was the shortest. No, seriously, I wanted to get one of his books, because I’d read about him, but I didn’t want a huge investment in either money or time. This book fit the bill.
But, also, it turned out to be good timing for me. In a way, The Dip is an inspirational book, a book about the power of positive thinking. It’s certainly a motivational book and would fall under the broad category of “self-help books”, in my opinion.
The premise is simple, really. Godin says that effort in any worth endeavor, espcially those in the business world, has a curve. Sort of like a learning curve, but it goes deeper than that. The curve, which he calls the Dip, is what separates those who are successful and those who aren’t.
When we start something new, whether it’s a new business or a new hobby, we throw a bit of effort into it and we see some small results. At first, a very little effort produces significant improvements and results. But, eventually every endeavor hits a point where added efforts produce fewer or no apparent changes in skill or improvement of any kind. This is the Dip. Many people quit here and don’t push through the Dip to get to the rest of the curve where additional efforts produce increasing results and result in mastery, eventually getting to a very high-level of performance. The problem is, we start many, many things and can’t possibly pursue them all through the Dip and on to mastery. Also, we don’t always have the skill, resources or simple ability to follow through sometimes, but we chase after these things anyway, thus wasting precious time and effort on things that won’t pan out, leaving us not enough time and resources to pour into the few things we might truly follow through the Dip into mastery.
On the one hand, it’s inspirational to realize that if I manage to stay faithful to the things I really find enjoyable and worth pursueing to their end, I might make it through that inevitable slump that everyone always hits. If I can maintain my enthusiasm when things seem to be all working against me or keeping me from moving from dabbling hobbiest to skilled practitioner. For instance, it gives me hope that my photography will hit that level where I suddenly start getting it and start seeing better and better photographs. Sometimes, I feel like I’m on the cusp of that already. An example of how the Dip works, for instance, is the 365 Days project on Flickr. The goal is to take a self-portrait every day for one year. Most people hit a creativity wall at three months or less. Many bail out at that point, and, in fact, I almost did myself. But some carry on through the slump, fighting the urge to just throw in the towel, waiting for the creativity to spark again. Even then, some of us never get that creative spark back and our photographs never improve or we drop out later, midway into the Dip itself. Quitting in the middle of the Dip, incidentally, is something Godin warns about. Better to quit sooner, and not waste the resources to get further along only to quite later. Or, better still, to perservere and make it through the Dip to the other side, thus achieving a new level of skill and competence. I haven’t given up on my 365 Days Project yet, so I’m hoping I’m not the only one who’s seen improvements in my photographs.
And, The Dip also helped me realize that I need to waste less time on things that I know I won’t follow through on and drain my resources, thusly preventing me from pouring more effort into the things I really want to do well. Now, I’m having to look at what I’m going to “quit” to make room for more effort for my photography and my writing. I’m a little afraid that it will be sleep I give up to make room! But, no matter, this book pointed out some deficiencies in how and where I spend my effort.
That needs to change.
I have to admit, I was skeptical about the hype associated with Seth Godin. I mean, how good and brilliant can one man be, especially when it comes to sounding off about business and management? But, this book really helped me see some of what’s been going wrong in my life much more clearly.
It’s already motivated me to workout more and more regularly, in an effort to improve my over-all health and appearance. And, it’s provided considerable encouragement to keep working at my photography. So, for those two things alone, it was worth getting.
I recommend The Dip for anyone who feels “stuck” or frustrated that they’re not moving ahead in their personal projects. I’m sure it’s great for business, too, but I got plenty out of it for myself.
I think you will, too. Trust me, it really is worth the read.
Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"As human beings, we all want to be happy and free from misery. We have learned that the key to happiness is inner peace. The greatest obstacles to inner peace are disturbing emotions such as anger and attachment, fear and suspicion, while love and compassion, a sense of universal responsibility, are the sources of peace and happiness."