On Friday, my friend Kathy (a fellow entrepreneur who knows how tough it can get!) brought me a copy of Seth Godin's book The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit (and When to Stick). I'm a huge Seth Godin fan and I read the book in under an hour. The idea is that every new project (or job, or hobby, or company) starts out exciting and fun. Then it gets harder and less fun, until it hits a low point where it's extremely hard and no fun at all. Is all of the hard work going to be worth it? Or, is it just a pointless exercise of running around in circles?
Seth explains that you could be in The Dip (a good thing in the way that feeling "the burn" in exercise class is a good hurt). Then again, you could be in a dreaded Cul-de-Sac (Not a good thing-translated from French, cul-de-sac means "bottom of the bag" as in "you're-at-the-bottom-of-the-barrel-with-no-way-out").
The Dip is akin to the middle of a marathon - you're far away from the starting line, the excitement of being in the race has worn off, the pain has set in, and the finish line is nowhere in sight. But if you can just get through it, you'll find great reward and satisfaction further down the path. A Cul-de-Sac is like running off course during the marathon and just perpetually going around that semi-circular dead-end road without ever reaching the finish line. The idea is to identify which pattern you're in and then either stick with the Dip or cut your losses and flee that Cul-de-Sac as quickly as you can. I decided that I'm in a Dip, and resolved to keep my running shoes on.
The next day, I seemed to find divine confirmation of my decision. While waiting in line at a grocery store, I picked up a copy of Our State magazine and opened to an article about Margaret Hagerty, an award-winning marathon runner who started running at the age of 64 when she decided to give up her half-pack-a-day smoking habit. This Concord, NC native is now 81 years old. She has run in more than 74 marathons (including the Mount Everest Marathon) and just earned a place in the Guinness Book of World Records for being the oldest person to complete a marathon on each of the seven continents. Now if that doesn't inspire you to stay in the race, I don't know what would...