As entrepreneurs it can be easy to get stuck in indecision, confusion or suffer from a lack of clarity around what to do next or how to move forward but I actually got to thinking about this when I was, quite literally, stuck in the muck.
A few days ago I was driving around the rural back roads in my neck of the woods when I took a “shortcut” that I’ve driven dozens of times, only to find my car sinking inches into a mud puddle that I was unable to exit.
I was spinning my wheels and frustrated and in the process ruining my new boots with copious amounts of mud.
Why do we get stuck and, more importantly, how do we get out quickly when it happens?
In my case, I was driving this shortcut because the afternoon light had brilliantly lit the wheat growing and after 3 days of rain and wind and thunder, I wanted a break in the sunshine. It was beautiful
But while chasing that inspiration, I didn’t see the dirt road was still drying out from over an inch of rain in 3 days until I was stuck in the middle of it.
We do this as entrepreneurs all the time, whether it’s seeing another coach do a group program, getting an idea from a magazine or seeing someone’s campaign on Instagram and deciding “I need to do that too!” Too often, we run down the rabbit trail of Pinteresting ideas or trying the newest technology and not staying on the path to success.
I’m not saying those distractions don’t sometimes pay off or that it’s never worth it. But if you find yourself stuck over and over again without knowing how to move forward, then stop chasing side ideas and stick to the path you’re on.
Ignoring our instinct
As much as I hate to admit it, I knew 40 feet into this dirt road that I should turn around. I’d hit a smaller puddle and though I navigated out quickly, I figured that the rest of the road would be the same. I even drove in the middle since the earlier puddle was on the edge – thus driving directly into the mud pit waiting around the corner.
There are times when you know, you just know, that you’re not on the right path. Something is telling you to back out, turn around or stop. But out of stubbornness we sometimes push forward only to regret it.
Don’t ignore that gut feeling or small voice that suggests slowing down or evaluating the terrain before moving on, it might just save you a lot of heartache.
It would have saved me a very messy car:
Well, I’m stuck, what now?
Unlike my foray into off-roading, you might not immediately recognize that you’re stuck. But, just like my car, after awhile it will feel like you’re spinning your wheels and giving something a lot more energy but not going anywhere. Once you accept that you’re stuck it’s time to find a solution.
Tactic #1 – Evaluate what’s going on
Get out of the mess and take a step back. Look around and consider where the problem lies so you can solve it. I honestly didn’t realize only the right side of my car was stuck so deep until I walked around and got my boots dirty.
It wasn’t fun but I might still be stuck there if I didn’t face what the problem really was.
Tactic #2 – Try different shit
I had snow chains in my trunk from a recent trip to the mountains, so I threw those puppies over my tire to find out if they’d give any extra traction. Verdict: nope! I looked in the trunk to find out if I had mysteriously purchased gravel or cat litter or had spare lumber that would give me a way out. Nothing. I even searched around but could find nothing but tractor equipment and more mud.
You have resources at your disposal. There are people you can talk to, team members to support you, experience as an entrepreneur and lots of creative energy that can help you pivot out of a stuck situation. Try shit, see what works and at least you’ll know you’ve tried.
Tactic #3 – Get expert help
With sunset fast approaching I decided to use my AAA membership to call out some help and within an hour the tow truck driver and I had pushed my car out of the mud and back to the road.
When you’re struggling, sometimes you just need some expert help. That might be a Facebook ads specialist, a coach, training for copywriting or a lawyer. When you’ve tried solving the problem on your own and you’re still stuck: ask for help.
Yes, it’s probably going to cost you money, but it costs more to stay stuck. I know this because I’m writing this from home with my car in the driveway instead of from a muddy dirt road out in the country.
One of the ways I stayed focused on the solution was talking to the expert about solutions – not taking to social media to complain. While it was tempting to share about the mess I was in, I knew it would only be a distraction. Instead I focused my attention on those who could directly help me in that moment.
Tactic #4 – Change yourself
Here’s what I knew would NOT work to get my car unstuck: waiting for the water to evaporate and the road to dry out. Considering our weather has oscillated between sunny and gorgeous to overcast and rainy, I could have waited weeks!
The answer is rarely to wait for your environment to change; instead we have to change ourselves, our strategy, and our tactics.
You could insist that Myspace is a better social media platform and wait for everyone else to see it your way – OR – you could adapt to the environment and get on Instagram instead.
You could fuss and complain that no one reads long form emails anymore to click on your link 43 paragraphs down – OR – you could change the way you write emails to get a better response.
In these examples you have the choice of staying put and waiting for the environment to change around you – OR – adapt to the reality you’re in and pivot out of it to reach your goal.
Finally, try to see the good around you. It wasn’t fun to be stuck in the muck but I had a beautiful view, got great support on the way out, and turned my car into a Jackson Pollock canvas!
Share in the comments: where do you feel stuck and how are you working to get unstuck?