Joseph, Seth Godin’s Dip and Knowing When to Quit
Practice Your Craft In the Dip Or On The Rise
It’s funny what ideas collide on any given day. I’ve been re-reading Seth Godin’s The Dip while also re-reading the ancient text Genesis. In Genesis I’m at the point in the story where the Creator needs to clear out his favorite people—the ones He’ll use to help all subsequent generations and peoples—to a foreign land so they’ll survive a famine. The front man is Joseph, sold into economic slavery by his not-so-well-meaning brothers. Joseph winds up as #2 man in Egypt. You know the story. Maybe you are already singing the tune from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.
It turns out not just any dream will do, as Mr. Osmond so famously sang, because there were a lot of very big falls and rises in Joseph’s life. And a lot of waiting, which served to focus the dream. Quitting would have been an excellent option for any of the many dips he experienced. Because there were no guarantees the dip would ever end. There were no guarantees he would ever rise out of the slavery/prison. Interestingly, the author of Genesis points out that Joseph continued to work out the processes behind his dream: his gift for organizing people and stuff. His gift of leadership. So that wherever he was, as household slave or in jail, he organized and led using the same skills that would help him manage a nation’s food supply through thick years and thin.
The dream seemed to be about fame at the beginning—that’s what Joseph’s brother’s thought. Maybe Joseph thought that too. But the dream became a byproduct of practicing the gifts given him, even at the lowest points of the dip. To quit would have been to stop practicing the thing he was made for, which would be to give up hope. I think Webber did a good job capturing the optimism that must have been warp and woof of Joseph’s life.
Where does that optimism come from? Maybe from practicing one’s craft when up or when down. Maybe that optimism comes from understanding a much larger plan is in the works and you are in it, whether you on the rise or languishing in the dip.