Big Ideas

Strategic Quitting: How to Defy the Dip


Profit: You talk about the difference between strategic quitting and serial or reactive quitting. How do you know which one you are doing?

SG: The wrong kind of quitting is quitting in "the dip" because you feel too much pressure, you feel too uncomfortable, you feel like you have no other choice. What this means is that you've just wasted an enormous amount of effort that got you into "the dip" in the first place, and what you should have done is quit six months ago.

At the beginning, before you start, you need to write down the circumstances under which you will quit. "I'm starting a business and after I use up 2 and half million dollars, I'm going to quit." You've got to decide that now.

Quitting can help you come up with a new strategy. If your strategy is to be a 3000-chain outlet, or your strategy is to be the dominant supplier of a certain kind of medical supply, and you strive to be the cheapest – but can't be – you stop right now trying to be the cheapest. That's going to force the group to say, "OK, well what are we going to be the best at?" This is opposed to the current mindset at most corporations, which is you're afraid to go to your boss to tell her that you failed at something so you plug along and plug along. Most operations in most organizations are mediocre and mediocre is for losers.

Profit: Has writing this book changed your personal thinking?

SG: It sure has. My shoulders don't work and I've been going to physical therapy for a number of years to fix it. I started thinking about "the dip" in strength training. Almost anyone can decide to go to a gym, almost anyone has the money to join a gym, almost anyone can put on the outfit and go the gym, and almost anyone can do nine reps. It's the ninth rep that represents "the dip," because that most people quit. And if you're going to quit at nine, you shouldn't even bother going, right? Then you wasted all the stuff that got you there so far. Now, when I am sitting there and I get to the ninth rep, I say, "Great, that's why I came, now I have a chance to do the last two." The whole thing is about the last two, getting through that "dip". And I find the same thing works with relationships with people, and it works with business decisions – it's the last two that you woke up in the morning for.

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