Dip or Cul-De-Sac

There was once a famous Master archer who invited his disciple to watch him in action. Though the disciple must have seen this so often, he obeyed the teacher and both walked into the garden. They reached a towering lamp post and the Master took a rose and placed it on “Tee”.

The Master then takes out his bow and arrow and differently for the day, he pulls out a white piece of cloth.  He walked and positioned about 100 steps away from the lamp post and asked his disciple to blind fold him with this piece of cloth which the disciple promptly obeyed.

Facing the lamp post and the target – The Rose and asks, “How often have you seen me do this?” The disciple truthfully says so many times that I have lost count and each time you have managed to hit the rose more than three times this distance away.

The Master then aims at the Rose and release the arrow…. Swwwwiiiissssshhhhh…..

Forget hitting the Rose, the arrow embarrassingly doesn’t even go anywhere near the Lamp post. The teacher asks, “Did I make it?”


Disciple replies “No Master! You missed it completely and I thought you were to demonstrate your ability to control the shot by thought and to perform the magic”.

Master replies, “I just taught you the most important lesson about the power of thought. When you target something concentrate and focus only on that. No one will ever hit a target they cannot see”


How often do many of us end up on a journey like this, without knowing where we are headed? We can never teach what we don’t know, nor lead to we were never go. Yet we hang on to this journey till we are totally spent. As the wise Chinese men said, “Knowing when to quit is the best strategy”.

Which brings me to marketing expert Seth Godin book  “The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit (and When to Stick)”. A guide on strategic quitting. Godin explains that, in order to know whether or not to quit, you need to determine if you’re in a “dip” or a “cul-de-sac”

A “dip” is when the going gets tough, but there’s the opportunity to be the best in the world when you come up on the other side.
A “cul-de-sac” is when you’re just going around in circles, and continued effort isn’t going to get you anywhere.

Godin explains that if you’re in a “dip” you should buckle down and keep going. But if you’re in a “cul-de-sac”, it’s time to wave a white flag. I agree with Godin’s analysis.

Finally, a rule of thumb I followed all my career (both sporting and engineering career) Quit when People ask “Why” not “When”