The Four Reasons We Get Stuck

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If any success for our organizations or ourselves seems elusive, then we benefit greatly if we can see what’s stopping us.

Sometimes we get stuck because we don’t really know what it is we are after (or are afraid to specify it).

Sometimes it’s because our buzz is too low; we are feeling bad, trying to make things happen (usually turns our poorly) instead of feeling good and allowing them to happen (usually turns out well).

Sometimes we get stuck because we can’t see how to work on the right, best things and end up working on the urgent things or on nothing much at all.

And sometimes success evades us because we’re trying to do it alone or we have not committed to win-win outcomes: someone (maybe us) who matters is losing.

Those are the only reasons, I promise. Success is simple.


In your corner,


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The Sort of Leader Who Gets People Unstuck

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Leading, Sales and Influence
Reading time: 2 min.

People who don’t change can gum up our organizations and their careers. We try requesting, coaching, pleading, pushing, “carrotting and/or sticking,” or even jumping up and down. Yet people often remain stubbornly stuck.

We may explain their stuckedness as some character flaw. But they really stay stuck out of fear (or fudwar). And they are unable to navigate that fear. When this is true, all those things we have done to move them only trigger more and more defensive resistance.

Take heart, though; we can shift things. We start by quickly acknowledging (to ourselves only) that they have some fear and by recognizing how we have (had) similar fears, too.

Next we allow ourselves to be compassionate, setting aside any concerns that compassion leads to passivity or permissiveness (it doesn’t). We are quietly saying, “I get it and I know–perhaps better than you right now–that you have everything you need within you to move forward.” Then we redouble our work to foster a successful environment for everyone with compelling goals, effective systems, and clear thinking that feels good–all in service of win-win.

Being this sort of leader builds the required trust, unlocks fear, and helps people step out of stuck.


In your corner,



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One Step to Unstuck

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Do=Natural flow of action, Will=Our inner game
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Take a step. Just one step. One, incomplete-imperfect step toward whatever you most desire is all you need. By taking that one step, you counteract all of the negative thought that until now has kept you stuck.


In your corner,


PS: One measly step forward.
PPS: It will probably feel quite good to take that teeny step. So go ahead and take another.


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Unstick That Project

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Do=Natural flow of action, Will=Our inner game
Reading time: 2 min.

Sometimes, projects get stuck because the timing isn’t quite right. More often, they get stuck because we have not thought them through thoroughly. When we are stuck, our thinking tends to be random,  repetitive, and frustrating. We just aren’t sure what’s what or what’s next.

We may try talking it out, making a list, or writing down some notes. These may work because they help you get our thoughts into the light of day where you can work with them. And they may not help because they subtly restrict us into thinking logically and linearly.

We need to find a way to allow ourselves to think more creatively. For this, I suggest mind mapping. Mind maps are pictures that let us open up our thinking. Working on paper or with mind mapping software, we start with a central idea and add related ideas as we think of them. We draw each idea in a bubble and use lines to connect them to other ideas. We can rearrange our thoughts quickly as better ways of organizing things emerge.

Seeing our thoughts mapped makes it easier for us to notice connections, fill gaps, and generally be our creative-thinking selves.


In your corner,


PS: I prefer to use mind mapping software instead of pen and paper. There are several great tools available. I like Simplemind on the desktop (€29) and smartphones (about $5). You can synchronize your work between your phone and computer via Dropbox. There is also a great free tool for the desktop called Freemind.

PPS: No need to restrict mind mapping to big ideas or projects. Use it whenever you need it. I will often create a quick mind map on a subway ride between meetings to get clear on a specific project or part of a project.

PPPS: Mind maps also help teams think and collaborate better.


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Getting Unstuck Is Simpler Than You Think

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Will=Our inner game
Reading time: 2 min.

Whenever you are feeling stuck, at a loss, or uncertain, remember this: you have everything you need to get clarity, direction, and movement. With some practice and maybe some help, you can access the answers. You don’t have to go too far, the answers are right here, just at bit hidden.

In our day-to-day lives, our worries about the future, regrets about the past, and other distractions drown out the oddly quiet source of those answers. That source is neither alien nor mystical. It is who we are or, at least, a piece of who we are.

One quick and easy want to access this source is to use the This Is Me tool. Spend a few minutes noticing what you are thinking, feeling, and doing. For whatever you notice, say to yourself (or out loud), “This is me…” and fill in the thought, feeling, or action you notice. Do a whole series of them. “This is me worrying about getting groceries for Saturday night’s dinner party. This is me noticing the traffic is lighter than usual this morning. This is me feeling bad about something I just heard on the radio. This is me reaching for my coffee cup. This is me thinking that my colleague hasn’t responded to that email yet. This is me looking forward to the project launch meeting later today. This is me…”

After a while, you will probably notice a mild, welcome but unusual sensation. If you don’t, keep going until you do or try another time during the day. This sensation is what that quiet, wise aspect of you feels like. This quiet aspect is the you who is observing the day-to-day you do, think, and feel all those things you noticed.

Having connected with this aspect of you, try asking yourself any of these questions about your situation: “What thought would feel better than what I have been thinking about this situation? What do I really need, want, and desire? What will it feel like to have what I really want? What compelling, feels-good next step can I take?” Listen quietly and be willing to be surprised by the answer.


In your corner,



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Success Trap

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Strategy, Success, Will=Our inner game
Reading time: 1

Often, our greatest impediment to success is our past success. We make the mistake of attributing our prior success to some of our most treasured behaviors or assets. We conclude that, to keep succeeding, we must keep using those treasured ways. We think we know what’s right, what’s best.

That would not be a bad conclusion if the nature of our work wasn’t so fluid. Sure, if everything remained the same, we can keep using our tried-and-true tools.

But everything changes. We have different goals, markets, and clients. Technology,  teams, and culture all change.  The tools you have relied on may not work in today’s environment. If you experience any amount of being stuck, chances are very good that you are in this success trap.

Getting out of this trap is simple. We can succeed anew by focusing on the desired results, gathering close people we value, trusting their perspectives, and delegating.


In your corner,


PS: By the way, we do get to keep using those treasured behaviors and assets. Let’s just stop leading with them, ya?


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balls in the air

How to Clear Lingering Tasks

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Do=Natural flow of action
Reading time: 2 min.

We waste time and energy on lingering tasks. They distract and drain us until we finally deal with them. If we have a task that we just can’t seem to get done, then it usually falls into one of these three categories:

  1. We don’t want to do it now and we don’t want to forget about it. We try to remember it and every other task. Truth is, our brains aren’t really wired to keep track of more than a few tasks.
  2. We want to do it at one level and we fear doing it at another level. For example: we want the benefit of having made those sales calls but don’t relish making the calls.
  3. We don’t want to do it all and we don’t know how to get it off our plate. We’ve said yes and now regret agreeing to do this.

The first step to clear any lingering task is to acknowledge it. Pull it out of the corner of your mind it has been hiding in and face it: “Here is a task that I have not yet done.”

The next step depends on the above category.

  1. If you don’t want to do it now and want to remember it, put it on your back burner list. You will review it every time you do a weekly refresh of your effectiveness system.
  2. If you hesitate out of fear or discomfort, chances are you are considering too big of a bite. Try doing the smallest possible and still practical next step. In the sales example, maybe you imagine your next step to be “Get them all to like us and buy our product.” The real next step could be to make one sales call with express purpose of setting up an exploratory meeting.
  3. If you don’t want to do it and can’t see how to get it off your plate, go back to the person you made the commitment to and renegotiate. Be clear and seek win-win. “I am avoiding doing this task. Can we renegotiate it? Tell me a bit more about the results you like to see, I’ll tell you what I am interested in, and we can then put our heads together to come up with an approach that works best.”

Enjoy the ensuing calm.


In your corner,



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Stuck? Could Be What You Won’t Consider

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Strategy, Success, Will=Our inner game
Reading time: 2 min.

Whenever any goal consistently remains out of reach, resilient habits of thought may be the problem.

resile v.i.  To start back; to recoil to recede from a purpose.

We resile when we don’t want to consider a topic, idea, or situation. Resiling is a helpful habit we establish, usually when we are young, to avoid something we’d rather not face. It is helpful, that is, until it gets in the way of our success.

We compromise our business and life success by resiling from something that pains us. For fear of rejection, criticism, uncertainty,  obstruction, or other perceived harms, we devote untold energy creating clever though inefficient alternate routes. More success awaits us if we can stop resiling.

For example, a client of mine spent years devising strategies to market his business. None of them worked well; most of them involved portraying his company as something other than it was. Every time he encountered a marketing strategy that could work for him, he would reject it without much consideration. Pausing to notice, he saw that his resilient habit was to avoid even thinking about any situation where he might be evaluated as “less than” some other person.

Though he happened to learn the underlying logic of his resiling, we need not excavate; we do not need to understand any of the details or causes. A simple acknowledgement and choice are all we will need. Try this:

  1. Wherever you are plateaued or stuck in business or life, ask yourself, “What is it I do not want to consider?” Notice your emotional reactions. You may notice a bad feeling. You may know what that bad feeling is about. Or you may catch yourself resiling: the bad feeling numbs quickly and you are left without any explanation. Either is fine.
  2. Acknowledge to yourself this resilient thought habit. “From the discomfort and regardless of the cause, I see that I am clearly thinking about something I do not want.”
  3. Choose what you want. “What do I really want now?”

In the example above, my client chose a successful marketing plan that resonated with him, his company, and his clients.

I smell a breakthrough coming for you, too.


In your corner,



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rock and hard place

Neither A nor B

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Will=Our inner game
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“Option A is bad and Option B is worse.”

We can get stuck thinking there are only one or two ways out of a given situation.

Consider closely for a moment anything you struggle with. Within that struggle, you likely are entertaining a false dichotomy: “It’s A or B.”

We can break out of this mental trap by remembering that there is always another way. And by remembering that fretting about an apparent rock-and-hard-place is a great way to prevent us from finding that other way.


In your corner,



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When We Get Stuck

Posted Leave a commentPosted in We=All Who Matter, Will=Our inner game
Reading time: 1

When we get stuck, there could be many reasons why. Here are some of them.

  1. We see too many obstacles.
  2. We do not know what we really want.
  3. We are afraid to pick what we really want for fear we may regret our choice.
  4. Or for fear that we may fail. Or that we may succeed.
  5. We try to “make it happen.”
  6. We act when we feel bad (in an attempt to feel good).
  7. We tell ourselves feel-bad stories about the world and ourselves.
  8. We fail to see interim goals that break a big leap into manageable hops.
  9. We settle, justify, complain, or get “too busy/tired.”
  10. We think we are alone and have to do it all by ourselves.

Woof! No wonder we get stuck.

Happily, you can get unstuck by correcting just the last one and let that take care of the rest.


In your corner,