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  • Writer's pictureRussell Lookadoo

Groundhog Day

Updated: May 10, 2018

“Groundhog’s Day” is one of my favorite movies. In the 1993 movie Bill Murray plays Phil, a TV weatherman who gets stuck in a time loop and is doomed to repeating the same day over and over again. Then he finally gets his act together and is able to move forward with his life. The movie is on my mind right now for two reasons: this coming Tuesday is Groundhog’s Day and secondly, the sun is out today. I agree, cliché, but there are two lessons for business leaders.

In the movie, Phil has a clear and compelling goal: winning over Rita, played by Andie McDowell, a reporter for a Punxsutawney, PA TV station. While Phil is trapped repeating the same day over and over, he soon learns to make incremental improvements and eventually achieves his goal. The process is painful, frustrating and requires resilience and perseverance. Fortunately for Phil, he learns from his mistakes. Many business leaders do not recognize, or decide not to benefit from their errors.

This is because the errors occur in their blind spot. The business leader is simply too close to the issue to see what is really happening. All they feel is frustration. One solution is to get an outside perspective by engaging a coach and or joining a mastermind group. Friends and family often share the blind spot as well. Or even if they see what is happening they are not willing to put their relationship at risk to say what needs to be said. Over time your blind spots will become obvious to your trusted outside advisor or peer group.

Secondly, the sun is shining brightly as this is being written. The traditional legend of Groundhog Day is not related to the syndrome in the movie. Instead it is represented by Punxsutawney Phil, the marmot meteorologist. Originating in an old Celtic tale of an argument regarding the start of Spring, the story goes that if the groundhog sees his shadow on the morning of February 2nd he retreats back into his burrow and we are destined to have six more weeks of winter.

There is a lesson here as well. As mistakes are made, business leaders retreat to their burrow and delay making the changes they need. Instead of even making the incremental improvements the human Phil made in the movie, they succumb to the fear that exposure brings. They avoid being accountable for their actions, ignoring or denying there is a problem. They will stubbornly defend, explain away or justify what they are doing. A solution to this “ground hogging” is outside perspective and the accountability it brings. If you surround yourself in a group of like-minded individuals dedicated to advising and supporting each other, the needed accountability will help you move forward.

An outside perspective can aid the business leader in setting up better processes, improve communication skills and establish a discipline of checkups and adjustments. You make the choice, you can just cowboy up and go it alone, or seek experience based advice, outside perspective and accountability. With the second choice, the business will improve and your life will be better. Isn’t a better life why you started your business in the first place. Don’t be the groundhog.

Russell Lookadoo is the HR Guy for small businesses. His firm, HRchitecture, specializes in helping business leaders accomplish their goals by effectively using their teams. Russell brings over three decades of experience designing Human Resources solutions that achieve business strategies in varied organizations ranging from a small manufacturer to the nation’s second largest bank. Russell holds the Senior Professional in Human Resources designation from the Society of Human Resources Management and earned the Certified Compensation Professional designation from World at Work. Russell attended the University of North Carolina on the prestigious Morehead-Cain Scholarship and graduated with a Bachelor’s in Industrial Relations. Visit his website at

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