The Dip

Why, How, and When to Quit

The Dip Book
Most of the business advice I've been reading in the last three years is really refreshing. More humanity, intuition, beauty, and self actualization are not only welcomed, they are increasingly becoming competitive advantages for people and organizations. Technology is creating almost everything for us, and we are to do the things that technology cannot achieve; beauty, style, design, creativity, spontaneity.
The dip, by Seth Godin is one more refreshing piece of advice, about (again the opposite of what is traditionally advocated in business) quitting. The main idea is that we should quit often, as a strategic tactic, and that we should choose when to persevere.
I also had this strategy, and I often use it in new endeavors. I focus on one thing, and almost isolate myself from many other things in life. This is to ensure enough focus is given to what I'm doing. Eventually, when things are stable, I can go back and include the other things I like to do.
The new thing for me in The Dip was paying attention to what is it that I want to quit, and what it is that I need to persevere at. Although I usually focus when I quit other things, I seldom make the effort to make sure it's the right thing for me.     
"Being the best in the World" is another key notion Seth goes on to explain. Of course "world" means somebody's world. It also means how they perceive their world, and being the best is about being the best for them (your prospective client / market) now.
The whole book, or "program" as Seth likes to call it, is around this one idea. That we should chose the things that we are the best in the world at, and abandon everything else. The main reason is that being the best has dramatically higher benefits than being second or third. The benefits are disproportionately higher than any other position in the hierarchy.
Not only is it advisable to be the best in the world at what you do, Seth argues that is also becoming necessary to be the best. I a long tail of micro niches, you are probably in one niche and need to be the best there, or else! "In a Google world, the competitor is only one click away." There is good news though. If you think seriously about your strengths, you probably are the best in the world at what you love to do, you just need to focus, make the strategic decision and go for it. This idea echoes the main strategy of Squidoo, "everyone is an expert at something."Sisyphus
The Dip immediately brings Sisyphus to my mind. This character is known for the frustration he has to endure every day. He was condemned by the gods to push a heavy rock up a mountain, only to find it roll back to the bottom on a daily basis. Albert Camus provides a fresh perspective on how to view Sisyphus. Although used as a metaphor for futile activity, Camus argues that the "struggle itself toward the heights is enough to fill a man's heart." He also explains how valuable it is to face the absurdity of life the modern worker has to live with, and to remember that "no fate is insurmountable by scorn." His article is also a reminder that life is a series of dips that we have to endure. Seth mentions in his interview with Guy Kawasaki that But the "book is about investment and effort, in doing things not just for the pleasure of doing them but because you expect something in return."
I tend to side more with Camus's method of learning how to embrace the dip not because of the gains you might get, but because it is an inevitable part of life and work. If you start embracing (and loving) the dip, you can easily use Seth's arguments to choose the right ones to engage in.
My criticism is that Seth says that we should choose which dips to engage in, as if it is always up to us. The dip is there, we always find ourselves in difficult situations, and we are always faced with challenges. He should have mentioned this also, while selling the reader on the importance of going into dips. 
I'm now faced with three ideas:
1. Chris Anderson's Long Tail, which shows that a large enough number of little niches, amounts to a total greater than the few hits.
2. Seth's dip, arguing that you need to be the best in the world (a hit not a miss) in order to really thrive. You have to be focused on the head of the graph instead of the tail.
3. My own idea that we should remember that small things amount to a considerable total, that being the best does have great benefits to it. But...
How can you be the best at something with out being average at the components of that "thing". More on that in "The Long Tail Person."

Don't underestimate the little dots that can be connected to make a meaningful total, and don't forget that dots are what make shapes. So go on and draw the best shapes in the world!