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Can We Get Them Past the Dip?

Seth Godin, the marketing guru and big-time thinker, talks about the DIP. He describes it in his popular podcast, Akimbo, as the end of the honeymoon. It could happen a month after you have started some new exciting work or passion project. It could happen after a year.

The dip is essentially when things start to get hard and challenging. The dip is when your purpose loses focus or you have an understanding that the way you thought this awesome plan would all go down a straight and constantly upwardly ascending line to success actually looks a lot different. It might even include the realization that what you thought was such an awesome idea is actually an epic fail. I know from the dip. I’ve been there. And, what is so fascinating about the dip is, it doesn’t matter how many times you’ve been through it. How many times you’ve started something and hit a wall or even given up. The next time? The next time you have the same fantasies. This time, THIS time, it is going to be clear sailing. Win after win with that clear path to even greater success.

Learning is returning, again and again.

I’m not sure where this delusional quality comes from, and I can only call it delusional because I have never experienced anything even remotely defined as successful without the dip and then having to climb out of the dip. For me at least, all new learning and adventures have the dip. I can speculate, though, that the surprise, the utter shock that the dip has arrived (again) happens more to men than it does for women.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, boys suffer from what I call the Kept Prince Syndrome. Told early on, in all sorts of explicit and implicit ways, that they should be prepared to inherit the kingdom, boys and men are under the impression that the road to greatness is right around the corner, with little to no resistance, that their great ideas will be magically ushered through some clear path to success. Dips are for other people, as are the struggles and obstacles and impediments that we all face when we move into the uncharted ground of new ideas. This unexpected push back that eventually boys experience at some point in school often leads them to easily give up and to accept subpar work rather than push through for something greater, something of even higher standard. The logic is if there is resistance than it must not be part of MY destiny.

The path of learning and discovery, therefore, becomes unnecessarily narrowed and limited, not because of access, but because of gender attitudes and expectations. My experience shows me that it’s not that boys' lack patience or that they just don’t want to “do school.” Real learning is a series of obstacles and mistakes, followed by slow and unpredictable revelations. Learning is returning, again and again. More than patience, it requires an active presence in the moment, with no real prior assumptions of how and when clarity and understanding will arise. Rather than pumping boys up about future days of glory, our boys would benefit more if we talked to them about the interesting ride ahead, the journey, which will definitely include the inevitable dip.

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Jason is flexible and attentive, yet remains committed to his high expectations of my work in tackling tough situations and tasks.  With a sense of humor and compassion for the rigor of a leadership position, he knows how to guide me with just the right amount of productive stress.  I appreciate that.

Daphne Orenshein - Elementary School Principal: Hillel Hebrew Academy

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