June 2, 2010

814 words 4 mins read

The Dip

Seth Godin is one of my favorite writers, thinkers, marketers, and presenters. Everything he writes is worth your time reading. Two of his books stand out for me. One is Tribes, because Tribes describes the whole Tea Party experience perfectly. And he wrote it a year before the Tea Party things started.

Right now, though, my other favorite Godin book serves as a question and a guide for the Tea Party movement. The Dip is about that period between initial success and final victory. The sub-title: a little book that tells you when to quit (and when to stick).

And that’s what I want to write about today.

I won’t bore you with a recap of what happened in the last year. No one cares. Some might, but they’re not the ones who count. The ones who care about reliving past glory have already decided not to seize more. Those people have already quit.

Instead, I’ll talk about what I see right now and the decisions we have to make. Not as a group, but as individual human beings.

Are we in this to win, or not?

November seems a long way off. It’s only the very start of summer. Kids just finished school. Summer vacations are still in the future. The NBA and NHL haven’t even finished their seasons yet.

And a lot of people are exhausted. Our houses need work—all the work we didn’t do last year or over the winter or this spring. We’re tire of the commitments, of the arguments with spouses, of missing kids’ graduations and ball games, of turning down job opportunities.

In moments of quiet reflection, we just wish it was all over. We wish November would get here. Or maybe we wish we could just walk away.

Have you drafted that tweet or blog post or facebook note that tells the world, “it’s been real, but I’m going back to my plow?” Have you?

I have. I’ve written that post many times. I’ve even sent an advance warning to close friends, and they haven’t always tried to talk me out of it.

But I haven’t quit yet. Neither have you.

This is the Dip.

Different people will hit the Dip at different times, but everyone who’s committed to victory will go through one. Or seven. Every major league champion, everyone whose name is engraved on Lord Stanley’s Cup has been through the Dip. Every accomplishment worth talking about followed a Dip.

The Dip is purgatory for champions. James O’Keefe went through the Dip in New Orleans. He didn’t quit. He came out on top. One day he’s announcing the end of his court ordeal, the next day he’s revealing a sting on the Census Bureau.

The Dip is resistance, according to writer Steven Pressfield. If you quit now, no one can criticize you. You won’t be embarrassed. Hell, after the past fifteen months, walking away from grassroots stuff will give you more time than you’ve ever imagined. You can fix up your house, take a long vacation, read that stack of books that you’ve assembled but haven’t cracked. You’ll be able to learn a new language and grow your own organic vegetables. Maybe you’ll take up knitting or quilting to scrap-booking.

No one—least of all me—would blame you. You’ve done more than most for your country and for my children. Thank you. As Seth writes:

Winners quit fast, quit often, and quit without guilt-until they commit to beating the right Dip for the right reasons. In fact, winners seek out the Dip. They realize that the bigger the barrier, the bigger the reward for getting past it. If you can become number one in your niche, you’ll get more than your fair share of profits, glory, and long-term security.

If you think we can win this thing—if you think the American Ideal is still in our blood—then you might, one day, blame yourself if you quit now.

The finish line isn’t close. I’m not gonna lie to you. The finish line is far away. Between here and there lies the roughest, most dangerous terrain we’ve crossed yet. There are mines and dangerous snakes and wild beasts. The enemy will try to destroy us, and it will succeed in destroying a few. Others will jump out at the Dip, unable or unwilling to carry on. The barrier on this one is very, very high.

But there’s strength in numbers, and there’s power in faith. We have both.

The hard work is before us now, and the glory of media attention and meeting famous politicians is long gone. Now it’s for the win, for God and country, for ourselves and our posterity.

Congratulations: you’ve made it to the Dip. On to victory.

P.S. Another great book (which Seth Godin loves, too) is Steven Pressfield’s: The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles