Stop Digging - Joshua Tree Leadership

Stop Digging

On occasion, leaders will find themselves in a scenario where they have metaphorically dug themselves into a hole. What is the first rule when finding oneself in a hole? Stop digging! Yet many, despite knowing otherwise, will break this rule, and continue to dig even deeper.

Why does this happen? It can happen for a myriad of reasons, but a main reason can be attributed to scarcity. Scarcity can affect leaders in many ways, but many are starved for time. The maxim, “there is never enough time” is but one of the many ways used to describe the scarcity of time. Time scarcity visits all from time to time, and as with most concepts, striking the balance is both the challenge, and the solution.

The bright side is that used properly, it can create an opportunity to become hyper-focused, which is particularly beneficial when a leader is faced with an aspect of their business that is urgent and important (re: business threat). The darker side of time scarcity, presents itself as tunneling, or in other words, digging a deeper hole. As the metaphorical hole is dug, tunneling only magnifies that what is right in front, or the bottom of the hole so to speak. The nature of tunneling masks the growing height of the side walls, creating additional problems, or at worst, a calamity that is too difficult to overcome.

Successful leaders hone their ability to focus, but without balance, this focus can create tunneling, particularly in areas that strum a personal chord (leaders are human, not robot). The effective leader strives to prevent tunneling by increasing their field of vision, even if only momentarily, to check if they are standing in a hole, with a shovel in their hands. (For further insight regarding the psychology of scarcity see Freeing up Intelligence, by Sendhil Mullainathan and Eldar Shafir:

– RdM

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *