A colleague once told me that if you want to get out of a hole, the first thing you need to do is STOP digging! Even then I thought they were wise words, but as time goes on I find very few people take this approach to getting out of a difficult situation.
There are lots of reasons why this happens. The most powerful is inertia...many of us just keep going in the direction we have been. We believe that if we just try a little harder or work a few more hours, we'll magically pop out of the situation. Even worse is when we keep going, even though we know we shouldn't, because we have a need to be 'right' or its darker twin, the need to not be 'wrong'. Worst of all is when we just keep going because we don't know a better way and are afraid to ask for help.
I'm sure we can all think of a few shovels we've got going in our lives, digging those holes a little deeper every day. And maybe you're digging for an entirely different reason, but the first step to changing any situation is to stop digging. You may not be making things worse for yourself, but digging can be very habit forming - take it from one who knows.
As leaders, we can take this a step further and duct tape those shovels to the people on our team - forcing them to keep going down a path even when everyone believes things are just getting worse. Taking that first step and putting your shovel aside can be incredibly difficult. You may feel vulnerable having to admit to yourself that you need a little help and support to move things in a new direction. You may not want to be perceived as not having all the answers. But here's what's true - you don't have all the answers and I can assure you that the people on your team already know that and so do you.
So today, find a situation where you're digging frantically (and we all have them) and step away from the shovel. I believe you will find that the help and support you need will be there if only you'll open yourself up to the possibilities.