The following is an excerpt from Godin’s book, The Dip. It’s a true story.
“Hannah Smith is a very lucky woman. She’s a law clerk at the Supreme Court. She’s the best in the world. Last year, more than forty-two thousand people graduated from law school in the United States. And thirty-seven of them were awarded Supreme Court clerkships. Those thirty-seven people are essentially guaranteed a job for life after they finish their year with the Court. Top law firms routinely pay a signing bonus of $200,000 or more to any clerk they are able to hire. Clerks go on to become partners, judges, and senators. There are two things worth noting here. The first is that Hannah Smith isn’t lucky at all. She’s smart and focused and incredibly hardworking. The second thing is that any one of the forty-two thousand people who graduated from law school last year could have had Hannah’s job. Except they didn’t. Not because they weren’t smart enough or because they came from the wrong family. No, the reason that most of them didn’t have a chance is that somewhere along the way they quit” (4-5).
Here are some encouraging reminders that I took away from Hannah Smith’s story.
Be patient in/with the process
Like Hannah, I think that every goal needs time to take shape and become a masterpiece. Patience allows us not to let speed become the enemy of a quality final product. In fact, impatience can halt a promising personal or business relationship. It can even leave a dream such as a singing career, completing a DMin program, teaching certification or anything up in air and all over the place like soufflé as result of not holding a steady, calm pace towards the journey. Secondly, it is important that we remain patient with ourselves. In many instances, we may be the first in our family to take on such nearly insurmountable feats. Nonetheless, in each instance, it helps to remember that, slow and steady wins the race as is the case in the old children’s book, The Tortoise and the Hair.
Endure the dip
Dips in life add character to us by developing new layers of leadership, stretching the current ones, and deepening our capacity to endure future dips. Working through them benefits us in the short run and the long run. Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Edison, and Harriet Tubman know what it means to endure dips where the odds of succeeding are seem slim to none. May we also find ways to use the low seasons to grow, stretch, and propel us forward even when we do not feel as if we will succeed.
Count the cost and pay it
Hannah didn’t jump to Staples’ easy button to attain her clerkship. The temptation to take the easy way out can lead to shortcuts that hinder quality. The burdensome weight of unending reading, researching, writing, and rewriting in education is worth every dip that we encounter. Whether it is ministry, engineering, accounting, or nursing, the payoff for sticking with it is rewarding in multiple ways. Though we may not presently see the payoffs that lay ahead, they will be there in the future. Often times, when I am in a huge dip in family-life, work, or education, I think back to my great-granddad’s combat years in WWII and how that generation was an all or nothing kind of bunch. Undoubtedly, the DNA in the WWII vets is something to admire, embrace, and emulate. They understood the cost and were willing to pay it. This involves taking life and its challenges one day at a time and steadily moving toward the finish line. Recompense awaits those who see the job to completion.
In closing, I encourage everyone to launch out into the deep on a focused journey. Be good, get better, and become the best at what you do. Easy is not an option. Dips will come and dips will go. Remember where you are going and keep moving. The goal gets closer with each step.