The Dip by Seth Godin

Ernie really comes up with some winners here: Dips, Dead Ends, Joyrides, Lotteries, and Quests � iHack, therefore iBlog.

Here’s a taste:

Joyrides are things you do just for the fun of it, without caring if you’re getting anywhere. Seth himself said (roughly) that “if you play the flute just because you enjoy it, not because you’re trying to make a living as a flautist, then The Dip doesn’t matter.” It is worth noting that for some people college is Joyride, not a Dip!

Lotteries are a particularly seductive variant of Dead End that looks like a Dip, in that we periodically see people who do make it out into the Good Life.  Unlike a Dip, though, there is nothing we can do to ensure we make it through to the other side; we are at the mercy of external forces. Thus, even thought there is a non-zero chance we might win the Lottery, for most of us it really is a Dead End, and a complete waste of our potential for greatness. This is particularly true for Talent- (rather than Skill-) based disciplines, where the Lottery took place before we were born.

Quests, on the other hand, are Dips that look like Dead Ends. Seth encourages us to pursue Dips where we can make measurable progress towards a well-defined goal. However, he admits that this doesn’t apply to things like cutting-edge scientific research, where there there are no guarantees or guidelines; fortunately, he says people like that won’t be discouraged by anything he says in his book.  🙂

However, I think he overstates the case when he says Quests (like Crick & Watson’s search for DNA) don’t have measurable progress.  They do, but it is a matter of personal growth and accumulated wisdom, not the usual business metrics.  Even though we may not reach what we thought we were aiming for, a worthy Quest enobles us and ends up benefiting humanity.

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