Benchmark Business Group

Safe and Comfortable Ruts

February 9, 2016

Last week we challenged you to identify a rut and to think about how it's decorated.  This week we want to focus on the ruts that feel safe and comfortable.  Examples of ruts that feel safe and comfortable might be:

  • Having an attitude of us versus them; this attitude leads to finger pointing or blame and can prevent a team from taking ownership of changing what is within their power to control.
  • Defending the status quo; when you or your team are busy defending what has happened it's difficult to be open to opportunities to change.
  • Repeating the same advertising strategy over and over again; never taking the time to question if it's working, just repeating it year over year because it's easier to write the check and not have to think it through again.

It can be difficult to identify when you're sitting in the middle of a safe and comfortable rut.  You may not be getting the results you want, but the rut itself is not always seen as the cause.  Think about it.  It feels comfortable.  It feels safe.   If you're looking at someone else that is stuck in a rut that's been decorated to be safe and comfortable, it can be tricky to address, because they can't see far enough outside the rut to feel the pain of being stuck.

Changing ruts that feel comfortable and safe start with changing mindsets.  The person in the rut has to begin to see the rut as something that is holding them back.   Follow these steps to begin to change the mindset:

  1. Acknowledge the Rut:  If the rut is not acknowledged as something that is holding you or the person experiencing the rut back, then you have identified your first problem to tackle.  If the rut is not acknowledged then moving ahead will only be going through the motions of change, without really addressing what needs to be different.  It's important to acknowledge the rut using facts and taking out as much emotion as you can.  Ideally this conversation keeps the business point of view in mind.  Simply state what the business is NOT getting and get an agreement that your business needs a different result.  At this point, don't assign blame or guilt, just work toward the acknowledgement that the rut is no longer acceptable and different results are needed.
  2. Make It Uncomfortable:  Change happens with motivation.  If your rut is decorated to feel safe and comfortable what motivation is there to take action to change so you can get out of it?   People in comfortable ruts need to experience the pain of being stuck in the rut.  You have to ask the tough questions to expose the gap between where you are today and where you need to be. 
  3. Let Go of Excuses:  The truth is sometimes excuses are very true.  "I'm missing the sales goals because the market is down or our prices are too high.  We care about our clients, but we just don't have time to follow up."   All of these excuses probably have a kernel of truth to them.  It doesn't matter though.  If you want to get out of your rut then you have to let go of the excuses.  It doesn't mean that you pretend they are not there.  Instead it's changing your mindset to think:  I'm going to do this in spite of these excuses.  You change the excuse into a challenge or competition such as, "The market is down and our prices are high, which means I have to talk to five more people this week."  Or "Our prices are high, which means I need to be able to believe and justify the WHY to my clients."   Helping to refocus the excuses, acknowledges that getting out of the rut isn't easy, but it is possible.

This week we've discussed changing the mindset of a comfortably decorated rut.  Next week we'll discuss action steps.  Don't forget to tune in!

See Also:
How Do You Decorate Your Rut?

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