Being stuck is no fun. As an entrepreneur, I find myself navigating the endless web of business priorities because, well, “everything’s” important. Focusing on everything is appealing because you feel like you’re getting things done and remembering everything you need to, but it’s actually stifling because when you focus on everything then what you really focus on nothing.
When this happens — and it will — take a step back. Take a breather and remember the one thing, the one reason or motivation that got you to where you are, and ask yourself the following three questions to get out of being stuck and create some momentum:
1.How am I contributing to the problem?
The biggest challenge many people face is getting out of their own way. Meaning, it’s easy to hold on to past assumptions and beliefs because they got you to where you are, so they must be right. Right?
I remember doing leadership consulting engagement for a Fortune 500 company and asking one senior leader to explain the organization’s challenges. “Nothing,” he replied, “we’ve been doing the same thing for 25 years and that’s why we’re a 12 billion dollar company.”
Uh huh. Sure. And that’s why I’m here, I suppose — to sustain complacency?
The point is, what it takes to go from a startup to a $100,000 company to a $1 million, a $10 million and a $100 million company changes. It must because the talent, resources and customer demands and opportunities change with it.
2. How might I…?
There are four important points to highlight with this question. The first is context. Notice that the question is open-ended which is intended to expand your thinking by considering the possibilities, as opposed to closed-ended questions which yield a simple yes or no response and restrict thinking.
The second point is word choice. The how part of the question asks for a solution as opposed to an explanation that you would get from asking a why or what question. More important, it asks for a creative solution by using the word might, which is the third point. Might infers that a solution A) exists and B) is possible.
The final point is responsibility. “I” stresses the fact that resolving this issue — whatever it is — falls upon you and nobody else. You could also apply this to a team since a team shares the same fate (how might we…?). Whatever the context, it’s a powerful question to ask when stuck in a rut.
3. Do my current assumptions accurately predict the future?
Let’s first distinguish between predicting the future and making an educated guess. The former indicates certainty, and if you can predict the future then congratulations, you’re my new financial advisor. The latter infers a hypothesis that may or may not be true, but a guess is made based on data (or a lack thereof). If you’re not 100% certain that your current assumptions will get you to where you need to be then the good news is this: you’re free from any self-limiting beliefs holding you back. The bad news, however, is this: it won’t be an easy ride. That’s why finding certainty in uncertain situations (i.e. when you’re stuck) starts with self.
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