I once worked for quite an inspirational MD who had a standard catchphrase that went something like, “If what you are doing isn’t adding value, tell me and then stop doing it!”
Following his advice I have two questions for you….
- How many jobs, projects or relationships are you involved in that aren’t going anywhere?
- Where do you spend your time doing things that aren’t going to deliver value in the long term?
In his excellent book “The Dip” Seth Godin introduces the concept of the cul-de-sac or the dead end street. You have to read the book carefully though, he spends 92 pages talking about the traditional learning curve and why you should lean into the curve but also know when you should quit.
The dead end street gets half a page, hidden in the middle of the book.
Perhaps that’s all it needs. Perhaps knowing that if you are on a dead end street and all you need to do is get off it fast, is enough.
What do you think?
My view is that most people recognise when they are on a dead end street but fear the uncertainty of the unknown. They would rather stick with these tasks than try something new. The difference between the dead end street and the dip is that there’s no downside to the dead end street. People stay there because it is safer, there is no learning and no fear.
The good news is that this is what most people think, so by doing the opposite you will mark yourself out as different. Quitting the jobs, projects or relationships that aren’t going to deliver value will define you as a leader.
So, if you want to have some direction, don’t spend your time on the dead end street!
About the song:
Alongside The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, The Kinks are the grandfathers of modern guitar based music. I once saw Ray Davies play an amazing acoustic set in Melbourne which included this song. Whilst the lyrics may be a bit depressing as they focus on the poverty trap it is definitely an all-time great song that still inspires bands today!