What is Your Strategy When Things Aren’t Working?

Ten things that aren’t a strategy:

  • anger
  • anxiety
  • cynicism
  • self-doubt
  • hope
  • passion
  • good intentions
  • expectations
  • wishful thinking
  • magic

These can all be fuel, but they aren’t strategies. Some are better fuel than others. But they are all fuel for your strategy, not the strategy itself.

The problem with the list above is, without any other tactics or actual strategies, these “false strategies” all end up in the same place: hopelessness. The feeling that nothing you try will work, things are always going to be this way, and there is nothing you can do about it. That’s what inevitably happens when you are using a false strategy, like hope.

“I hope this works out” is a perfectly fine thing to think or believe, but a poor way to actually nudge an outcome in your favor. Hope, believing that positive future outcomes are possible, can be a critical ingredient in helping you grow and persevere. But hope has to be paired with some other action or movement. The same goes for anger, good intentions, and having expectations. Left alone, they are mighty powerless.

On the other hand, strategies can actually move the ball down the field. Here is the start of a list of strategies you can use to nudge the outcome in your favor:

  • listen
  • empathize
  • take a risk
  • set and work toward short-term goals that add up to a bigger one
  • resist the comfortable choice
  • assume the best in others
  • limit your options and commit
  • get direct, honest feedback
  • rest and recover
  • practice
  • learn
  • meet another person’s needs
  • exceed another person’s expectations
  • cut your losses and move on
  • double down
  • experiment
  • practice gratitude
  • be accountable
  • be transparent
  • decide
  • ship early and often
  • practice humility

What else would you add to this list?

Personally and professionally, in your relationships and in your community: do you have a strategy to get where you want to be, to see what you want to see? If you don’t have an actual strategy, get one. If you do, is it working? Or is time to add to it or try something new?

Strategies don’t guarantee success, but they create space to take action, to learn, and to keep moving forward.

When you are stuck, or when you aren’t seeing the outcome you want to see, what is your strategy?

Maybe you need to be more resilient. Maybe you need to change your strategy. Most importantly, make sure you have a strategy.

It’s too easy to fool ourselves and settle for something less.


I offer leadership coaching and emotional intelligence for individuals as well as assessments, team training, and more for organizations. Get more info at www.adambouse.co and let’s pick up a conversation about what problem you want to solve today.