If You Find Yourself in a Hole

Think before digging deeper. From a&nota's Flickr photostream.
Think before digging deeper. From a&nota’s Flickr photostream.

“The most important thing to do if you find yourself in a hole is to stop digging.” ~ Warren Buffett

Sometimes it’s really tough to stop doing what we are familiar with. I remember being in corporate life and the endless meetings that were scheduled throughout a week. Each meeting would play out like a bad script. The project manager had an assistant with all the details and a power trip. The team would be checked out and hoped the time would pass quickly.

We updated statuses and I can remember the predictability of people’s responses. It felt like a relentless cycle that was more about the comfort of activity than it was about getting results.

That was a culture of death by meetings. I am sure many of you can relate. The problem was less about the fact that the meetings were not working well and much more about Buffett’s quote. We kept digging a hole with our time and productivity and just kept on digging.

Ultimately, it takes some leadership to stop digging. It means that there has to be a blaring challenge to what is not working. It may mean a shift in culture, challenging someone’s ego or getting candid about reality.

There’s plenty of holes to be found. If the way you sell is not working, then stop selling that way and analyze why it is not working.

If you keep having people come and go in your company then stop hiring the same way. Try a different way of recruiting, training and incentivizing.

If your business is in a constant state of urgency, heroics and emergencies, then step back and demand a more serene reality. Stop reacting and start planning towards more sanity.

If you continue to go through the motions, then is it reasonable to expect a different outcome? No, you have to stop digging, look around and envision something completely different.

So, what’s not working? And why are you still digging?

Published by Don Dalrymple

I partner with founders and entrepreneurs in startup businesses. I write and consult on strategy, systems, team building and growing revenue.

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