“Sometimes we mistake the edge of our rut for the horizon.”
I had lunch last week with the 2nd generation owner of a decades old business. He was feeling stuck. Early this week I had coffee with a woman in her 30’s, who leads a three-year-old start up with her husband. Very different situation, but, the same self-diagnosis.
“Ross, I feel stuck.”
We work in the intimate details of dozens of businesses every year. We want all owners, entrepreneurs and leaders to know that this “stuck” feeling is fairly common. The combined pressure of demanding customers, full calendars, payroll, cash flow, problem employees, balancing family demands, etc. can be completely paralyzing. The feeling is compounded if you are dealing with the isolation that is common to many leadership roles.
Once you realize that you are STUCK, follow this Xtra Mile 4-Step Prescription to get out of the rut and back into the fast lane.
#1 | GET INSPIRED
One or two times every year, I will go to a conference and be the student. Listening to best-in-class experts share their big ideas and stories of leadership wins inspires me to think bigger. The bigger I think… the smaller my problems seem. If you need a quicker shot of passion, think about an underdog movie that inspired you when you were younger. (Here are some ideas: Rocky, Star Wars, and my all-time favorite Miracle, the story of the 1980 US Olympic Hockey team’s journey to the gold medal.)
Break your normal routine, watch a movie in the morning during “work hours.” Then take that inspiration back to work with you.
#2 | THINK LIKE A ROOKIE
“But the longer we live with a problem, the less likely we are to think we can do anything about it. People fresh to a problem haven’t convinced themselves that they can’t solve it.” –– Liz Wiseman, Rookie Smarts
Fresh perspective is critical to solving your organization’s biggest challenges. Hire a millennial or a retired contractor. Join a mastermind group. Engage a reputable consultant. These fresh eyes and curious questions could create a needed breakthrough. What have you got to lose?
#3 | TAKE FOCUSED ACTION
If you are feeling stuck right now, I want to challenge you to take some time and work on the answer to this next question.
What 1 or 2 things, if you accomplished them in the next 60 days, would make a 50% difference in your results?
The biggest mistakes we see leaders make, in almost every organization, is thinking that ACTIVITY = ACCOMPLISHMENT. Without a clear answer to the question above, people spend 10-20 hours per week working on $8-$10 tasks, while the critical $200+ tasks are neglected, or worse, still undefined.
Serious about getting UNSTUCK? Don’t go to bed tonight until you have an answer to this question…IN WRITING. In the morning, clear your calendar of any clutter and get to work.
#4 | TAKE ON A PHYSICAL CHALLENGE
A few years ago, I coached beginner triathletes through their first Sprint Distance races. One of my greatest rewards is watching unlocked potential in action. Every time the body overcomes previous mental limits, we develop grit. When you cross the finish line of your first triathlon, climb a 14,000-foot peak, or finish a half marathon, you have the psychological edge of being UNSTOPPABLE. You will find it very difficult to be UNSTOPPABLE and STUCK at the same time.
Remember that “stuck” is a normal part of the process, but the less time you spend there the better. Great leaders make these four steps part of their normal rhythms and routines, and they rarely stay “stuck” for long.
Get out there and be UNSTOPPABLE!