The Dip, by Seth Godin, styles itself as the little book that teaches you when to quit (and when to stick).
Here are the main takeaways.
If something is worth doing, it's worth being the best in the word at it. That 'world' can be quite a small niche - a market segment, for example - but it's worth being the best, not settling for mediocre.
Anything worth doing has some pain attached. That's The Dip - the time and effort required to go from a beginner to an expert. It's what separates the mediocre from the great. It's what separates the law graduate from the judge; the Sunday morning tennis player from the regional champion; the salesman just scraping by from the best in the company.
Anything worth doing has The Dip. And the bigger The Dip, often the more worthwhile the project is.
But... you've got to recognize when you are facing a Dip and when you are in a cul-de-sac.
A cul-de-sac is boring and it's not going to lead to anywhere great. It's just jogging along in the mediocre lane. It's something you're never going to be great at. Or it's something that's not really worth doing.
Indeed, if you're in a cul-de-sac - or you think you might be heading into one - then you should quit.
Why quit? Because there's no point heading down a cul-de-sac and wasting your time.
Now, if you decide you're not in a cul-de-sac but you're just facing The Dip, then you should stick at it.
Quitting in The Dip is just stupid. It's like the guy who constantly changes lanes at the checkout because the current lane seems slow. It's OK to change once because you realize you're in a cul-de-sac lane. But if you keep changing, you'll never get to the place where they're bagging your groceries.
Instead of quitting in The Dip, you need to lean into it. Embrace The Dip. That's the only way you'll get to the other side.
Indeed, working at The Dip is what makes an aim worthwhile. The Dip is part of the accomplishment.
This a short book - you'll read it in an hour. But it clearly presents a concept that is key to accomplishment in anything. A concept that is key to life.