How To Regain Traction When Your Business Is Wheel-Spinning

Here’s a great question every entrepreneur and executive can relate to:

“How do I stop wheel-spinning and regain traction in my business?”

Yes, wheelspin happens to all of us and the chances are very likely it’s going to happen again.

You start your day off, fired up and ready to take on the world. You put your shoulder to the grindstone and start hacking away at your to-do list, only to get to the end of the day, or late at night, and discover you’ve flung a lot of mud, but there’s no sign of forward movement… Your efforts weren’t rewarded with the result you wanted, which can be very frustrating and disheartening.

After a few days, weeks, or even months of putting a lot of effort in, and making little to no progress, you realise you’re stuck in a loop of being extremely busy but not productive, and you’ve got to do something about it. If you don’t, the consequences could be devastating to you and your business.

How do we get ourselves into this situation in the first place?

Wheelspin is an outcome… it’s the Effect of a Cause… it’s the end result of the efforts we’ve been putting in, and since the end result (wheelspin) is not the desired result (progress, or forward movement), it’s a glaring sign that we’re focusing our efforts on the wrong things.

The most common cause of wheelspin, is business leaders losing sight of their highest objectives and getting distracted by trivial or urgent matters of low importance, that when resolved, add little to no value to moving the business forward.

It’s like the captain of a ship leaving the helm to change a lightbulb in the mess hall. What’s more important? Replacing a lightbulb so that crew members are more comfortable when they’re eating, or keeping the ship on course and steering around hazards that can sink it?

When you look at it like that, the choice seems obvious, but there are many reasons leaders get lured away from their highest objectives, to attend to less important matters. For example:

  • To delay the discomfort of facing a tough challenge, or making a difficult decision,
  • To find a sense of purpose in their day, when unsure about what they should be doing,
  • To avoid the effort required to plan and prioritise their workload,
  • For the relief that comes with eliminating an irritation, or silencing an incessant complaint,
  • For the satisfaction of doing something that’s fun, or easy to do,
  • For the feeling of accomplishment that comes with ticking something off their to-do list,

Each of these, amongst many others, are very powerful temptations that can easily lure leaders into the wheelspin trap, and away from their responsibility to focus on driving the business forward.

What can you do to regain traction and build momentum?

Step 1 – Take Ownership

The first and most important thing to do, is to own the problem and admit to yourself that it was your own decisions and actions, or lack thereof, that got you stuck in the wheel-spinning trap to begin with.

Just skip past the excuses and self-justifications and take it on the nose, because that’s what great leaders do. Get this right and half the battle is won, because if you put yourself into the situation, that means you can get yourself out of it.

Step 2 – State Your Objectives

Next up, it’s time to remind yourself what your highest business objectives are, and ensure these goals are clear and specific, with measurable indicators of success and distinct timeframes.

But remember, if your goals aren’t genuinely meaningful to you, or if they’re unrealistic, you won’t take them seriously, pointing to a different problem altogether, which we’ll cover in separate posts.

Step 3 – Prioritise Activities

Now that you have your destination squarely in your sights, it becomes a whole lot easier to figure out what you need to do to get there, and how to prioritise your list of activities to get there as quickly, efficiently, and cost effectively as possible.

It’s when we do what matters, that we regain traction and build momentum quickly. This means culling the trivial and less important tasks from our to-do list, by delegating or outsourcing them, or deleting them altogether.

It may also mean we may need to add important tasks to our action list that weren’t on the list before!

Step 4 – Take Action

To eject yourself from the wheelspin rut once and for all, ask yourself, “What’s the one thing I can do right now that will create massive forward movement in my business, and accelerate me towards my goal?”

If the answer isn’t already obvious, a quick glance at your lean ‘n mean priority list of high traction activities, should do the trick.

Then, don’t stop to think about it, or have a meaningful debate with yourself, just knuckle down and do it… believe me, you’ll feel like a Rockstar by the end of the day!

So, there you have it. To break out of the wheelspin loop, gain traction and build forward momentum quickly: Take responsibility for getting stuck in the first place, get clear on your highest objectives, cull your to-do list and prioritise activities… then do what matters, now!

If you have a question you’d like us to answer, share it in the comments section below, and we’ll respond in the thread. It may even be chosen as the subject of our next post.

To your Wilde Success!

Gary Wilde
Turnaround Specialist & Executive Wingman

About the Author

Gary Wilde is an experienced Turnaround Specialist & Executive Wingman who helps executives & entrepreneurs build high-value businesses and overcome tough business & leadership challenges quickly. He's an author, professional speaker and creator of world-class programs focused on success in business, leadership and life.

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