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Why quitters can win...and quite often do

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April 27, 2011

Seth Godin’s book The Dip is an insightful, quick read that tackles an almost un-PC question in the business world: Should you give up?

Godin makes the case that when the going gets tough, sometimes the best thing you can do is quit! If things are not working well for reasons outside of your control, then the best move is to get out of Dodge, and seek more fertile pastures for your efforts.

So much for the cliché that quitters never win!

Godin has a point. If you’re stuck in a dead-end job, working for a loser of a boss, no matter how hard you try to succeed, sadly, the deck may be stacked against you to the point of your talents being wasted.

So why not quit and give yourself a chance at a better shake? Reshuffle the deck a bit – what have you got to lose?

Yes, perseverance is important. You can’t quit EVERY time the going gets tough–that’d be the easiest success formula of all time! Unfortunately, it’s also probably the worst!

But “smart” quitting can be a very useful strategy. So when should you quit, and when should you put your head down and press on?

I wish there was a foolproof formula…but there’s not. That’s the essence of what Godin discusses: some telltale signs to help you discern if you’re merely in “The Dip”, with a rainbow on the other side…or at the edge of a cliff to nowhere!

Asking yourself this question is really half the battle. If things aren’t going the way you think they should, ask yourself if it’s just a dip, or a permanent decline. Nobody knows your situation better than yourself.

I’m a fan of measuring the amount of progress and success I’m seeing, with respect to the amount of time and effort I put into something. In general, I expect to see better results as I become more proficient and put more time in.

For example, when we launched our last product, we saw a nice steady uptick in adoption over the first six months—and then sales plateaued. The plateau happened despite improving our product quite significantly since launch, and my being more proficient in marketing and communicating its value.

What this told me was that the product was as good as it was going to get.  We needed to pivot—to do something else—in order to get past this hurdle. So, we went back to the drawing board, and created our next-generation version from scratch.  When we released this product into early beta, we saw that user demand was outstripping our ability to smoothly ramp people up initially; a very good sign that we were onto something good!

So when you’re cranking away at a project, or at your job, or something else, and you’re not seeing the return you’re expecting after awhile, ask youself: “Why?”

Often it’s not an effort problem. You may just need to realign your sights and efforts on something else!

Brett Owens is chief executive and co-founder of Chrometa, a Sacramento, Calif.-based provider of time-tracking software that records activity in real time. Previously marketed to the legal community, Chrometa is branching out to accounting prospects. Gains include the ability to discover previously undocumented billable time, saving time on billing reconciliation and improving personal productivity. Brett can be reached at 916-254-0260 and brett@chrometa.com.

 

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