February 2

Having grown up in a rural environment, it was common when visiting a friend to park on dirt driveways or wherever there was room. Under normal circumstances, this was fine, but when it started to rain, things became infinitely more complicated. Sometimes the car got stuck in the mud.

When your car is stuck in the mud, the temptation is to press harder on the accelerator, thinking that all the extra force will propel you out. In reality, this method only digs you in deeper. Instead of spinning your wheels, you need traction. Anything—some plywood, a large rock, whatever—can give you the traction you need to move forward and get out of the mire.

We’ve all experienced the sensation of spinning our wheels and getting nowhere. It seems like the harder you try, the deeper you dig in, just like when you’re stuck in the mud. What you need is a little traction.

One method for gaining traction that I often use with clients is redefining the problem by asking “What are we really trying to do here?” At times, the feeling of “stuck-ness” is really nothing more than a lack of clarity about what meaningful progress truly is. Simply redefining the problem can provide a quick jolt of forward momentum.

When stuck, redefine the problem.

Consider a project you’re struggling to make progress on. What are you really trying to do?

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