I've been in a hole before. My company has been in a hole before. Lots of famous, wealthy, and powerful people have found themselves in the same type of holes we all usually find ourselves in: the self-dug kind.
And a hole is a hole, even if it's one that was dug with a gold-plated shovel.
In fact, if you've never spent some time in a hole before, I actually feel bad for you, because in the end we all spend a little time there.
And if you are currently in a hole, here are two tips on how to get out.
1. Stop digging long enough to recognize that you are in a hole.
When things are going wrong, and you find yourself descending into the hole, the first thing to do is to just stop.
Stop doing anything, and take an honest, objective look around.
Is it (metaphorically) dark? Does it (metaphorically) have that funky wet-earth smell? Do you feel a little (metaphorically) dirty? If that's the case, welcome to the hole.
Before you figure a way out of the hole, you need to:
A. Recognize that you are in one.
B. Stop digging.
Sounds easy, right?
It isn't, at least for me.
I've always been pretty good at convincing myself that rather than digging a hole, I'm building a ladder - and I thought that maybe by writing this it would help me get better at my ability to tell the difference between holes and ladders.
But even if I do get better at telling the difference, I know that sometimes I will still find myself in a hole. We all do.
Hopefully I'll learn to stop digging sooner.
2. Don't attempt to talk yourself out of the fact that you are in a hole.
You have stopped digging long enough to recognize that you are in a hole.
What's the next step?
If you are like most people most of the time, you will tell yourself that what you are in is in fact not a hole.
A friend might shout down and say, "Hey, you're in a hole!"
And you might shout back, "No, I am actually in a circular trench!"
The friend might shout back, "It looks like every other hole I've ever seen! Smells like one too!"
And then you might shout back (louder this time, so your friend really hears you), "No, IT IS A CIRCULAR TRENCH!"
Then, muttering quietly so only can hear it, "And it smells fine to me."
Because over time, you have adjusted to the smell, and even started to forget you are in a hole. Eventually, you start eyeballing the shovel again.
Don't do that.
Be honest with yourself. If your career is in a hole, call it a hole. If your business is in a hole, call it a hole.
Calling a hole a hole is the first step to getting out of it. After all, a circular trench really doesn't sound that bad.
But it is, because it's really a hole.
And everyone ends up in the hole sometime - but that's no excuse for not digging yourself out.