Pass The Dip

Feb 28, 2024

Anyone know where I can get me one of those jobs that gives year-long sabbaticals?! I just need time to read all the books I currently own...while holding down my day job. It’s not that I don’t love what I do. It’s just that there is so much to learn. So many books, so little time. This pic is just that stack that are on deck to read or that I’ve already read and like to keep nearby as handy references. Mount Knowledge stares me down every day just begging to be climbed.

But we’re all like that, aren’t we? Some of you wish you could craft or knit or bake or CrossFit or play video games more than you currently do. That day job really gets in the way of your social life, doesn’t it? But the reality is, this doesn’t just happen at home, it happens at work, too.

When the chips are down and you just can’t figure out how to fit everything in to your 24/7, you need to think about The Dip.

The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit (and When To Stick) is an oldie but a goodie from Seth Godin. It’s a super quick read. I literally read it while getting a mani-pedi today—it’s almost like a long blog. It’s so good, he had me in the first five words:  I feel like giving up. I don’t know about you, but I feel like that at least once a week. This job is hard. Nonprofit work is hard. Fundraising is hard. Doing a lot with very little is hard. Heck, it’s all hard. And worse yet, we make it look easy. That’s how good we are. It’s also why we’re exhausted and occasionally feel like giving up. That’s why learning about The Dip is vital.

THE DIP by Seth Godin - Audiobook Summary - Learn the secrets of sticking and when to pull the ...

In The Dip, Godin tells us the best time to quit. I don’t mean quit your day job, but I do mean quit parts of your day job. We talk about this at our office all the time, but it can really rear it’s ugly head with nonprofit marketing. The problem is, there are a bazillion good ideas. You can’t possibly do all of them. But because you make this hard job look so doggone easy, you and everyone around you thinks you can tackle ½ a bazillion. The Dip bonks this theory in the head. But more importantly, it shows you which ideas you should pursue instead.

Learn To Say No Advice | Just Say "No"! | Silicon Valley Speaks

It's all because of Zipf’s Law. Because everyone loves a winner (see also Taylor and Travis), we reward those who are #1 bigtime. In fact, Zipf’s Law says that being #1 is 10 times better than being #10 and 100 times better than being #100. You might think that the top three cereals of all time would be in a tight-knit race, but it’s simply not true. #1 will always be a far and away winner or so says Zipf and his law holds true almost all the time. We just really love a winner and we treat winners with the attention that 2nd place or after only wished they could receive.

So, what does this teach us about our day jobs—or even our hobbies at home—and finding more time to do them? Well, you have limited time, money, and energy. Knowing this, you must leverage what you do have for the greatest possible good—the winningest idea in your arsenal. Anyone who will donate to you will wonder if you’re the best choice. So, if you want to be the best, you need to start doing some quitting.

Winners Do Quit, and Quitters Do Win - The One Percent | Quites, Quitters, Winner

Now, I know, I know…this is not what we learned in school. School taught us we needed to be well-rounded individuals, essentially mediocre at everything and not excelling specifically at any one thing. Do not take this strategy to you to work tomorrow. Bury it and forget it ever existed. Now is the time to be remarkable at a few things that really matter to you and your donors! Consider it strategic quitting. This is where The Dip comes in.

The Dip is the struggle bus between beginning and winning. The problem is that if something is worthy of doing, it’s worthy of enduring The Dip. And by ‘enduring The Dip,’ Godin means pushing through to win! To do that, you must commit to one of two things:

  1. A willingness to overinvest. This means an all-in approach to dedicating time and money to do this task in the very best way possible. This usually requires a commitment to win at all costs—significant over-investment so that you have the highest and best chance of dominating, doing this better than anyone else…any other community foundation or any other nonprofit.
  2. A willingness to quit. If you know you won’t be investing the right resources to win—define win on your own—then do the wise thing and be a quitter. Because the stupid thing to do is to begin anyway, give it your best time and a lot of money, then quit in the middle of The Dip. It’s a time suck that punishes everyone but the one who overinvested and won. In this case, quitting is the mature thing to do. It shows your maturity to save the resources you do have for the project(s) that you are truly passionate about and nothing less.

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The key here is to give it all you’ve got or quit before you even start. Because when you hit The Dip, the adversity gets super hard. You’re in the weeds. Like the high road, there isn’t a lot of traffic in The Dip, but unless you’re truly passionate about the task at hand, you’ll find a lot of exit ramps for the weak and weary who quit in the middle. What a waste! Don't let that be you!

If you’ve ever read Good to Great from Collins, you know this story well. There is a fine line between Good and Great and that line is The Dip. When the chips are down and you can’t do it all, embrace The Dip—it’s your friend! You’ve prepared for The (right) Dip your whole life. You have the knowledge and the passion and the reputation to impact your community through your mission. So, pick the tasks that make you want to swim through The (tumultuous) Dip like it was a Tough Mudder. The (perfect) Dip isn’t a slog at all—it’s your ideal opportunity to thrive, not merely survive. Obsessing over a few targeted tasks will give you the focus you need to triumph over The (intentional) Dip.

The Dip By Seth Godin (Thanks Jack Welde)

The bottom line:  It’s easier to be mediocre at a lot of things than to be realistic and quit before you begin. Fight mediocrity. No one signed up for mediocre marketing. Pare down. Plan your work and work your plan.

Do you have the guts to be a quitter? I know you do! It’s the only way you’ll have the time to do less, but oh, so much better! When the chips are down and you feel like giving up because you just can’t get it all done well, you might just need to pass the The Dip.

Merrily, Merrily, Merrily, Merrily,

[email protected]
dawn brown creative, llc. 

P.S. Fundraising is hard, even though you make it look
oh-so easy! ♥

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