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Philosophical Meanderings

The Dip by Seth Godin

I just started reading The Dip by Seth Godin and although I’m not sure if I am ready to embrace all of Godin’s ideas, if I stop and think about it then what he says starts to make sense.  And, I’m left wondering if agreeing with Godin’s ideas goes against my core beliefs. So, even though I’m not finished reading this book I am going to take the liberty at sharing my tentative thoughts.  I’m hoping that others will jump in with their own ideas before I just give up and return the book to the library.

Godin talks about the importance of being the best at whatever you do.  But, not the best in terms of a dog eat dog world but rather the best in terms of the context of your work, here and now. Now, that doesn’t sound so bad because then there’s room for many of us rather than just a few.  He goes on to say that  in order to be the best at what you do, and the best matters because there is a big difference between the best (#1) and the next best (#2 on down), you may just have to quit a few things.  I am not a quitter.  In fact, I tend to take on many projects and to persevere no matter what even,I must admit, if I don’t seem to be making any progress toward my goals, personal or professional.  Well, according to Godin persevering when you’re getting nowhere isn’t a very smart thing to do.  On the other hand, quitting those things that don’t move you in the direction you want to go is a very smart thing to do.

I’m still having trouble with the idea of the “best” and that “persevering” is not what you should be doing.  In fact, if you want to get anywhere and be in demand because you want to be the best at what you do then you’ve got to quit persevering at those tasks and projects (even your job) that don’t move you in this direction.  Then, I start thinking about these ideas in relation to my life and work and some of this (again) starts to make more sense.

What about you?  What are your thoughts on these ideas?

About Elisa Waingort

I am currently a grade 5 teacher in the Spanish bilingual program in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. I have been teaching for more than 30 years in South and North America. I love working with kids and adults. I am a teacher who reads voraciously. I love adult, YA, MG and picture books equally. I am a proud teacher writer. Every day I look forward to the challenge of learning to be a better teacher and a better human. Join me.


5 thoughts on “The Dip by Seth Godin

  1. I can understand your wariness, Elisa. I, too, am constantly holding together various projects and activities. What I would argue about the idea of dropping things that don’t move you in the ‘right’ direction is that sometimes we do thing because they bring us happiness or fulfillment, even if we aren’t good at them.

    As for bringing the book back, I think it’s a powerful thing to complete a book with which you don’t always agree. It keeps you well rounded!

    Posted by marybethhertz | January 17, 2011, 5:29 pm
  2. Godin’s thinking implies that we have a goal in mind. Therefore, if what we’re doing isn’t moving us toward that goal (or the new goal that is inspired by what we do), it may not be worth pursuing. I guess this means that being effective means recognizing the value in eliminating that which is not helping — this does not exclude us, however, from picking it up again when it is more useful to us or we have more time available to us.

    Is it possible that we’ve been so conditioned against “quitting” that we may have forgotten how to critically examine what we’re doing?

    Posted by Steve Kabachia | January 17, 2011, 6:09 pm
  3. i agree Steve.. the focus here is, why are you doing what you’re doing, rather than, can you finish it. most can finish a task, that’s not what makes you indispensable or successful, or what gives you soul peace.

    the dip is so in tune with what needs to happen in public ed. now that we can personalize, let’s prune things, good things even, but things we don’t necessarily need, in order to have more time to invest in things we do need. our sanity for one. relationships. and then whatever we have deemed as an individual/community to be success.

    it’s a mind shift. and it does change you. it often appears that finishing a task is easier than this mind shift. safer maybe. even though the task might be hard work and time consuming. it’s predictable. it has a road map.

    once you push past that though… you wonder why you even questioned it.

    Jason Fried in Rework talks a lot about this type of focus as well.

    Posted by monika hardy | January 17, 2011, 7:05 pm
  4. Your words about Godin’s ideas remind me of a several different situations.

    Personally, I have given up television and newspaper reading on occasion when watching or reading clutters my life or eats up my time or drags down my mood. My goal was de-cluttering, creating more time, easing my mood, so things that got in the way had to go. I could have chosen to try to do everything, but I chose to pull in a little, temporarily, for the sake of sanity.

    When I’m writing something big, and need some incubation time, I will sometimes straighten up my desk (and the floor around my desk, and the shelves near my desk) by picking up items and saying, “Is this helping me with this project?” Yes – it stays near the desk. No – it goes in a box or a stack far from my desk.

    When I decide on my goals for a class full of eighth graders or juniors or college freshmen, it is easier for me to discern what activities to include on a daily basis and what activities to avoid. “Is this helping them learn to generate new writing topics, or read non-fiction text better, or get the idea of voice, or whatever?” Yes – it stays in my plans. No – I reject it, leave it for another time.

    I have one other unfortunate connection. In a frenzy to increase test scores, administrators started harping on having us write a small number of objectives to pursue each quarter, each semester, over a year’s time. They could only be measurable objectives. At that point, they interfered with my professional judgment, informed as only a day-to-day teacher can be, about what the students needed. The goals of a class of children are not the same every year, because the group of children is not the same. The goals are not always measurable but that does not mean we should not work toward them.

    This kind of focus can blind one…unless we acknowledge the need for critical judgment at every turn.

    Posted by Carol Mikoda | January 18, 2011, 7:21 am
  5. After reading everyone’s comments, I have a different take on Godin’s points. As an adult, I have just recently found my focus, and sadly, most of the things that take up my time do help me reach my goals. I do, however, put things down or decline offers when I feel they are extraneous or redundant. When dealing with children, however, I feel that the more exposure they get to different things the better. It is the only way they will discover their passion(s). Once they have found something worth striving for (a goal) then they can pare down.

    Just my thoughts as of now—they may change again.

    Thanks for the discussion here, everyone.

    Posted by marybethhertz | January 19, 2011, 10:06 pm

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