The cul-de-sac of creating legacy

Corner a dog in a dead-end street and it will turn and bite’.  Chinese Proverb

The cul-de-sac is another term coined by Seth Godin in relation to pursuing an endeavour – or, in our language, working on a legacy project.

The cul-de-sac is the exact opposite of the Dip, although it can be easily mistaken for it. While getting through the Dip eventually leads to success, pursuing a cul-de-sac leads nowhere.

Let me give you a few concrete examples. An author looking for a publisher with a good book, countering rejection after rejection but keeping going nonetheless is in a Dip. An employee who has been working for a company for 10 years in the hope of getting a directorship, when all the directorships are taken by relatives of the current CEO, is in a cul-de-sac. In our author’s case, going from publisher to publisher makes sense; they may even consider self-publishing as an option. In the second case, the employee is highly unlikely to get that directorship, no matter how hard she tries, because the culture of that company is stacked against her.

As a rule-of-thumb, Seth Godin says that if success depends on moving through a market (like our author trying publisher after publisher), you are in a Dip and should keep going until you get through it. If, on the other hand, success depends on one person or one organisation and you have already tried persuading that person or organisation of your proposal many times, you are in a cul-de-sac.

In tomorrow’s blog post, I will outline three reasons why quitting in a cul-de-sac is smart. Till then, think about your current ambitions, and whether you are in a Dip or have hit a cul-de-sac. And if you realise you are in a Dip, keep going.

The time is now.

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Alexa Ispas

I am a social entrepreneur, blogger, and talent scout, interested in helping people who want to create legacy. I have recently completed my PhD thesis in social psychology at the University of Edinburgh, and am originally from Romania. I am writing a daily blog on creating legacy, which you can find at