Put Down Your Shovel

American business magnate Warren Buffet shares some profound advice about how to get unstuck in life: “The most important thing to do if you find yourself in a hole is to stop digging.” Stop digging? But doesn’t a little extra muscle help lift you out of your stagnant circumstances? Doesn’t trying a little harder move you forward?

IMG_3752Not necessarily. Sometimes the harder we try, the more frustrated we become. Sometimes digging and digging simply results in a deeper hole without a smooth escape. Warren, the Sage of Omaha, is right. Despite our instincts to work our way out of a hole, it’s important to stop and get our bearings. Often, it is best to put down our shovel and either climb out of the hole we’ve dug or ask for a helping hand to get out.

By nature, I’m more of a try-harder, dig-deeper kind of gal. I don’t list stubborn on my list of admirable qualities, but sometimes I do let my determination and drive get the best of me. What about you? When do you find it most challenging to put down your shovel? When the kids are sick and whiny? When you are sick and whiny? When the bills are stacking up and the bank account is running bare? When you are tired of waiting and want to see progress NOW? Some of us dig an assortment of holes: overworking, crash dieting, overspending, complaining, skipping sleep and rest, criticizing, and on and on.

But what if we applied Warren’s advice and instead of digging ourselves deeper in a hole, we dig deep inside ourselves . . . and stop? I’m game, if you are. With our shovels at rest, we’ll have more time to look around at our situation and even apply the advice of Hosea, a Sage of Israel, “it’s time to dig in with God” (Hosea 10:12). When we’re in a hole, fresh perspective from above helps us see the light of day.

What does getting out of a hole look like for you?

Brave and Resilient Tip #80: If you’re in a hole, put down your shovel and get some fresh perspective from above.


  1. Well said- thank you!

    • Thank you, Nancy. Logan already has a pretty good hole dug out in the former raised flower bed in the back. I can always go sit in his spot if I think I need to keep digging my own.

  2. Agree with the other Nancy! Great message. One I intend to take to heart. Thanks!

    • Its a message I want to keep applying myself. Some days it’s a true challenge to stop digging, but when I do, the fresh perspective makes a profound the difference.

  3. Just what I needed this week. Thanks!

    • You are most welcome, Sandy. I’m from rural America and learned to use a shovel well, so I am learning anew how to stop digging by instinct. 🙂