What Keeps Us Stuck

May 2011

In my coaching practice of over 16 years, one of the most common laments I hear at all levels of organizations is “I’m stuck.” Think back (perhaps as recently as yesterday…) when you felt you were hitting the wall. Odds are that you will be able to trace your woes to one of three main reasons we all get stuck. I see them as:

* Falsehood
Falsehood is when we are not telling the truth to ourselves or others, or when we are out of touch with reality. For example, having a self-image that is not up-to-date, or not grounded in present reality, is one form of falsehood. You may be thinking and behaving like the person you used to be, and not the person you are today. See my April 2011 Musings for more details and discussion of this. Some questions to ask yourself are: What in your professional life is no longer true? Where do you need a reality check? How can you take a stand for what you believe to be true for who you are today?

Fear is probably the most common cause of getting stuck. There is no denying that today’s world can be a pretty scary place in some respects. However, when you can articulate what it is you are afraid of, really get clear on that, say it out loud, and get to the root cause….you will find the shackles of fear begin to fall away. For example, are you stuck in a job in a company you dislike, because you are afraid of not being able to find a better job? Well, maybe. But dig deeper; you may discover your fear is really about, say, breaking rules you have made up (“Employees should be loyal to the bitter end.”). Or maybe what is masquerading as fear is uncertainty (about other options in the marketplace, about what skills you need to land a better job, about what path you want to take at this juncture of your career, etc.).

Finally, the third reason we get stuck is forgetfulness. This is losing sight of where we are going….or who we are. We forget that in saying ‘yes’ to some things, we must thus say ‘no’ to others. We lose focus, wander off the path, get lost….and as our frustration mounts we find ourselves feeling more and more stuck. One way we personally succumb to forgetfulness is by listening to that “gremlin voice” (the doubter, the critic, the pessimist) within us that keeps us from living out that which we long to become. We forget that other side of us that takes risks, acts boldly, and embodies our best qualities. Antidotes to forgetfulness include a powerful vision for our future, clarity of our core purpose, and healthy doses of self-discipline and accountability. Have you taken the time to create a vision for yourself, your organization, and your life? How do you stay focused on that vision?

Identifying the source of what is causing you to be stuck is a powerful first step in moving towards the life and work you most desire. Please let me know if I can support you in exploring this terrain.

Warm regards,

Sharon Keys Seal

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