What is the difference between successful and unsuccessful entrepreneurs? Seth Godin, in his book the dip, presents the novel idea that successful entrepreneurs are more open to
quitting. A common belief among unsuccessful entrepreneurs is that success will arise from staying the course. Godin’s theory turns the old adage “Winners never quit and quitters never win” on
In this revised paradigm, ‘winners’ evaluate the likelihood of success in cold, objective terms; and quit any venture that is headed toward a predictable failure. Quitting does not make one a winner, but it frees the aspiring entrepreneur to pursue more promising options.
The fear of being a ‘quitter’ causes too many people to ignore the signs of imminent failure, investing valuable resources (money, time, emotions, creativity) that might be more productively directed at better prospects.
Godin’s basic advice is to quit a path that causes stress and look for a different path. That means stepping forward in a new direction. Wax paper was an early recording medium for the emerging phonograph, but it didn’t work as well as hoped. Instead of discarding the project entirely, Thomas Edison invented a way to manufacture wax paper more efficiently and inexpensively, such that it eventually became a household staple.
Edison may be the most prolific quitter of all time. To earn 1,093 U.S. patents, and 2,332 patents worldwide, he averaged a patent every two weeks. How did he do it? He quit early and often. The breadth of inventions emerging from his Menlo Park laboratory is staggering; but for every successful patent there were multiple failures. Well…not necessarily failures. As Edison explained, “I am not discouraged, because every wrong attempt discarded is another step forward.”
Every successful person has experienced at least one major failure. But the fact that they eventually became successful means they were able to rise above that failure; to quit, leave it behind and move in a new direction.
I have ascended the heights of success in several fields only to find I had climbed the wrong mountain. That hasn’t diminished my enthusiasm or resolve to undertake yet another path. And I help my clients recognize those qualities within themselves.
There can be no joy or honor in persisting with a venture that produces insufficient health, wealth and happiness. That is true in every aspect of your life, from the boardroom to the bedroom. If you find yourself redoubling your effort, when what you really need to do is QUIT, just quit.