Seven Keys to Get Out of a Rut
Rut -- a routine procedure, situation, or way of life that
has become uninteresting and tiresome... And not
They say a rut is a shallow grave with two open ends. The
good news (good news?!) is that the ends ARE still open,
which means if you act fast, you just might out of it. How
do we get into these ruts anyway? Who would voluntarily lie
down in that grave, shallow or otherwise?
Dr. Edward Debono suggests that thoughts are pathways
literally "etched" in our brain as electrical connections
that get strengthened each time we think them -- thus
limiting our mental options. Just like cow paths. It all
begins when one of the cows wanders home from the field
along a new path. Being cows, others naturally follow,
nicely beating down the grass. The next evening our intrepid
cow is a bit less bold, and follows her own freshly trampled
path, fellow cows in lockstep behind her. And so on, night
after night, widening the path into a footpath, which over
time becomes hardened into a dirt road.
More time passes and the road is paved into a street, then
an avenue, a two-lane highway, and ultimately an interstate.
By the time you come roaring up the onramp in your shiny
SUV, your direction is all mapped out in front of you.
There's no way to turn, and no where to go but towards the
If you want to chart a fresh direction you are going to have
to grab the steering wheel and give it a hard, gut-wrenching
yank to the right. And so it is with your thoughts and
actions. Repeating them a few times all but insures you will
comfortably repeat them indefinitely unless you take
deliberate - possibly disruptive -- action to do otherwise.
Here are 7 rut busters I use with my business coaching
clients that you can apply immediately to get yourself and
your business out of a rut.
Shift your mindset from self to customer. Most business
people think of themselves first. They craft product and
service offers from their own perspective and consider
themselves the beneficiaries of their actions.
While that's not wrong, to get out of your rut do this: put
yourself into the mind of your customer. Who are these
people anyway? What are they concerned about? What are they
trying to accomplish?
If you were your customer, what would you think of that new
product, marketing campaign, or mail piece? Are you selling
your wonderful "stuff", or are you providing them tangible,
meaningful benefits. Ask, "If I were the customer, would I
care?" And if not, consider, "What WOULD I get excited
Shift your mindset from customer to client. A customer is someone who buys your goods or services. The original
meaning of client is entirely different: someone who is
under your care and protection.
Now that's a switch, isn't it? If they're customers, your
goal is to get them to buy something. But if you were to
think of them as under your care - would you approach your
business from another angle? How would you take care of
them? How would you "protect" them? What new programs would
you want to implement immediately?
Revisit your vision. Whenever I feel like I'm in a rut I
return to my vision and I do 2 things. First, I make sure it
still inspires me and that it is pointing me in the
direction I want to go. Once sure, I put pen to paper and
rewrite it. Not just once, but over and over. And I keep
writing until I can't write it anymore because I'm jumping
up and down with a new idea I must do something about right
Conduct a Survey If you don't know what to do next, ask
your clients. (They are clients, aren't they?) Conduct a
survey about anything that interests you. Ask them what's
bothering them. Ask them what they're stuck on. Ask them
what they like about your company and what they'd like you
to do next. Ask them about new features, or new products, or
If you're not happy with your current customers, conduct a
survey among the kind of people you'd like to have as
customers. And, if you can't do that, conduct a survey
online. Write an attractive search engine ad, promise
something of value, and drive people to a survey page. Ask
them anything you like - the answers will almost always
provide you with a neat mind-shift.
Focus on building your strengths and dump your
weaknesses. From the time we are little children we are
taught to better ourselves by working on our weaknesses.
This is often both frustrating and fruitless, and certainly
not as much fun as practicing our strengths.
Try this on: What if you focused 100 percent of your energy
on being world-class in those few things at which you are
already very good, and out-tasked or outsourced those things
at which you were mediocre. Imagine if you never had to face
any of those things again and could spend all your time
doing the good stuff. Would that change the way you felt
about your business? Would that bust you out of your rut?
Not if, but how. Think of that wild and crazy idea you
had recently. The one where you said to yourself, "That
would be great, but there's just no way." Well, I know
there's no way - you just said so -- but if there was a way,
what would it be? Answer that question as if you believed it
was possible - probable even -- and then get busy making it
real. That's power, you know -- turning your vision into
reality. Talk about a breakthrough!
What are you willing to sacrifice? Some important things
are more important than other important things, and trying
to keep all those plates spinning in the air saps your vigor
for the ones that truly matter. Dissipated energy - lethargy
-- is one of the reasons we lie down in that rut in the
first place, and dropping a few of those plates can really
help things break loose.
So let go. Make the sacrifice. Clear your plate and give up
some of those precious things you've been holding on to.
Focus your vitality on plans which will really rock your
world. Ruts? Who needs 'em.
© Paul Lemberg. All rights reserved
Paul Lemberg's clients call him "the unreasonable business coach" because he insists they pursue goals and take actions far outside their comfort zone to make more money than they previously thought possible. To get www.paullemberg.com/Business_Coaching.html">business coaching tips, tools and strategies like these, visit www.paullemberg.com/Business_Coaching.html">http://www.paullemberg.com/Business_Coaching.html.