How to Stop Defending What isn’t Working

We have the astonishing capacity to vigorously defend what isn’t working. When this happens, we eventually blame others for nagging issues. After all, someone has to be responsible for these frustrations.


Four steps on the path to regret:

  1. Believe you’re right, even though what you’re doing isn’t working.
  2. Pour more energy into the same strategies when you’re spinning your wheels.
  3. Isolate yourself. Reject input.
  4. Repeat steps one through three.


New strategies for facing nagging issues come from new voices.

Heather Horvath, HR Director at All4 Inc., says, “I was brought into a coaching conversation as a third person. It led me to ponder the question, ”When should a coach get others involved?”

(I’ve applied Heather’s observations to the broader issue of jump starting a process when you’re stuck.)

“If you have been spinning your wheels, it might be time to introduce a third party.”

Stop defending what isn’t working:

#1. New eyes see and state the obvious.

  1. Gradual development is less effective when you’re stuck.
  2. Bluntness creates tipping points.
  3. A new voice turns the lights on by saying the same things in new ways.

#2.  New voices intensify the gravity of the moment.

Business as usual goes out the door when a new person enters the conversation. A little discomfort is a good thing, especially when you’re stuck.

#3. New perspectives reveal what’s important to you. We lose sight of our values after grinding away for a long time. Reconnect with what you really want by noticing how you judge new perspectives.

#4. New people bring new feedback. What’s working? What’s not serving you well?

#5. New participants often lead to aha-moments. You end up saying, “I never thought of that.”

A new person at the table is one way to address the issue of defending what isn’t working.

How might leaders address the challenge of defending what isn’t working?

*Heather’s comments are focused mostly on bringing in a second internal coach. I thought there was opportunity to expand her thoughts to the general topic of dealing with being stuck.