Diary of a Network Geek

The trials and tribulations of a Certified Novell Engineer who's been stranded in Houston, Texas.

10/22/2009

Review: The Dip

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Deep Thoughts,Life, the Universe, and Everything,Review,Things to Read — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:34 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waxing Crescent

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:
"Plenty of people miss their share of happiness, not because they never found it, but because they didn't stop to enjoy it."
   --W. Feather

1/26/2009

Sargasso

Filed under: Advice from your Uncle Jim,Bavarian Death Cake of Love,Deep Thoughts,Geek Work,Life, the Universe, and Everything,Personal,Red Herrings — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Tiger which is terribly early in the morning or 5:45 am for you boring, normal people.
The moon is a New Moon

The only sea without a shore…”

I feel stuck. And, honestly, even as I write that, it feels ungrateful.
It’s not as if I’m in a bad place or anything, but I feel a little stuck. Unable to move forward and equally unable to move back. I suppose part of it is just the time of year. The new year has just rolled by and I feel like I’m in the same place I was last year. That’s not true, of course, but it feels that way. I mean, I’ve got the same job and I’m still not in a long-term, intimate relationship and I’m still not being more productive, really. But, it’s not a bad place to be stuck, either. I have lots of close friends and I got a raise when a lot of people are losing their jobs. And, when I was married, it really wasn’t all it was cracked up to be.

Still, I feel like life is a little, well, empty. I just haven’t added much to my life this past year. Sure, I’ve been exercising more and feel better than I have in a long time, physically. And, I have been trying to be more creative via photography, but, well, I guess it really bothers me that I’ve been a whole year and don’t see much, if any, progress in my life. I’m just sort of treading water. Stuck.

Maybe I just need a couple of projects to work on. Something to work toward that will stretch me and my technical skills at work. Something that will push my creative skills in my private life. And, I keep trying to not think about relationships, since, well, everyone keeps telling me that when I stop looking that’s when I’ll find one. Not that that has ever made any sense to me, frankly, but, well, the way I’ve been doing it hasn’t worked too well, so, certainly I’ve got nothing to lose by not trying at all! Surely, it couldn’t go any worse!

Well, anyway, the past couple weeks, I’ve just been unmotivated to do anything much or write a lot for the blog and, hopefully, this post explains a little about why.


Advice from your Uncle Jim:
"Our devotion to truth may bring us into conflict with those around us. What we need to remember is that we are not responsible for convincing anyone else of what we believe to be true."


Powered by WordPress
Any links to sites selling any reviewed item, including but not limited to Amazon, may be affiliate links which will pay me some tiny bit of money if used to purchase the item, but this site does no paid reviews and all opinions are my own.