When Trying Harder Doesn’t Help


The worst thing forward-facing leaders face is not making progress – feeling stuck. The solution for most is trying harder.

Stepping on the gas feels right, but it’s wrong, when there’s no traction. Spinning your wheels, when you’re stuck, results in more stuck.

The problem:

The problem isn’t getting stuck. The problem is trying harder after you are.

Trying harder makes stuck worse.

Working harder, when things aren’t working, drains, frustrates, and distracts.


  1. Welcome, don’t resist. Pretending you’re not stuck, when you are, makes stuck worse. You’ll never get out.
  2. Stop spinning. Expend less energy, not more. Desperation drives in circles.
  3. Investigate more. Challenge methods, assumptions, and beliefs that got you stuck in the first place.
  4. Try differently. Stuck is a leader’s best opportunity for exponential change.


Stop trying harder, when frustration persists and disappointment prevails. Identify recurring frustrations. Look beyond spinning wheels and slimy mud. Examine the path that led to the swamp.


  1. Look within, not without. Blame says, “It’s not my fault,” but, if you persistently feel stuck, who’s responsible? You’ll stay stuck until you change. Learned helplessness doesn’t help.
  2. How did you get here?
  3. What behaviors cause recurring disappointment?
  4. What beliefs and decisions landed you in this muck hole?


You try too hard and persist too long because doing defines you. When doing determines identity, you have nothing when you stop. Circumstances are distractions when you’ve been stuck a long time.


The ultimate question is, “Who am I,” when you face persistent frustrations and recurring disappointment. The ultimate challenge is looking within.

Getting unstuck, when frustration prevails, is about who you are, not trying harder. It’s a dangerous lie to believe trying harder solves persistent frustration.

What do you do when you feel stuck?

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