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Failures and the dip

Jorge wrote in to ask about the contradiction (it seems) between Poke the Box, which argues that you must consistently ship innovations to the market (and frequently fail), and The Dip, which argues that quitting a project in the middle is dumb, that the real success comes after the quitters have left the building.

I don't see a conflict.

The failures I'm talking about in Poke the Box are initial interactions with the market, about the ability and willingness to appear stupid in front of others.

In the Dip, I'm arguing that big successes happen when people with good taste see the failures, evolve and keep pushing anyway. The good taste comes when you know the difference between failures that are better off forgotten and failures that are merely successes that haven't grow up yet.

A single blog post is an example of poking the box.

Sticking with a blog for seven years is pushing through the Dip.

[Related: a reader asks if "Go, make something happen," is sufficient. After all, there's a lot of junk in the world, a lot of misguided, wasteful, mediocre junk. My argument is that the hard part is deciding to do something, anything. Once you've decided to move, at least you're going. Might as well make it worth the trip. People who care (and who are wiling to fail) will likely turn that effort into something worthwhile.]

Expanding the circle of ‘missed’

Would they miss you if you didn't show up? Would they miss your brand or your writing or your leadership?

If you work at the local fast food joint or the local library and you don't show up for work, do they consider shutting the place down? If you're on the team at the ER and you have a bad day, would someone die?

Everyone is capable of being missed. Most of us would be missed by our family if we secretly moved to Perth in the middle of the night. The question, then, is not whether or not you're capable of being missed. The question is whether you will choose to be missed by a wider circle of people.

It's a risk, of course. You have to extend yourself. You must make promises (and then keep them.) More pressure than it might be worth.

Except when it is.

Squidoo launches magazines

Here's a Squidoo update, along with a chance to share your work and your passion and perhaps find a new gig.

Six years after our founding, we're now ranked #73 out of the millions of websites in the US measured by Quantcast. We now get more traffic than Digg, NBC or Hulu.

Megangraph Millions of people have used Squidoo to build pages about content that they care about and want to share. What we've discovered is that in fact, self-expression is truly important to many people. That rush you get when you know an audience wants to hear what you have to say about something you care about–we've been supporting that for a while and it's clearly resonating with people.

What we've been committed to for the last six years is the idea that self-expression is at the heart of the best content, and that the web makes it easy to create personal media. Squidoo gives people a chance to build a personal interest graph online, page by page, interest by interest.

Announcing magazines: Squidoo is adding on to our core by launching a series of online magazines, highlighting great content, publishing original articles and connecting passionate people via Facebook. With Halloween right around the corner and more people eating vegetarian we thought we'd start there, but with a lot more to come. The team has done a fabulous job launching these, I hope you can take a look, or even better, join in.

If you'd like to contribute to our upcoming roster of new magazines (either to promote your own work or to be considered as an editor) please fill out this quick form and we'll send you regular updates.

“I couldn’t have done it without you.”

Seeking out the opportunity to say that to your team is at the heart of every successful project.

Of course, that means the members of the team have to decide it's worth the risk to earn it. For some, "indispensable" is threatening.

What to do next

This is the most important decision in your career (or even your day).

It didn't used to be. What next used to be a question answered by your boss or your clients.

With so many opportunities and so many constraints, successfully picking what to do next is your moment of highest leverage. It deserves more time and attention than most people give it.

If you're not willing to face the abyss of choice, you will almost certainly not spend enough time dancing with opportunity.

“Have we spent enough time focusing on your issues?”

When in doubt, the answer to this question is always no.