Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Stuck on Stupid

I was working with a client last week and we were doing an exercise where we had him look at the defining moments in his work and life, along with the lessons learned and how he has changed over the years. As we went through a number of his experiences, he repeated several times that he had a tendency to get “stuck on stupid,” which meant for him that he had a hard time moving on and he also sometimes failed to learn the lessons that were embedded in particularly difficult experiences.
As this phrase began to resonate and stick in my brain, I recognized that we all can and do get stuck on stupid. There are many reasons for this, of course, and it mostly has to do with our fears of letting go, of making the changes needed to move on in our work and lives. For many of us, staying stuck is far preferable to making the changes necessary to get what we want. This accounts for why most people don’t make job or career changes unless they are forced by layoff, depression, burnout or the like.
So, as we look ahead for the remainder of 2009, let’s look forward to not getting or staying stuck, that even in a treacherous economy and job market, it is preferable to move than to be or stay stuck. Here are some thoughts about you might begin to do this.
First take an inventory of your strengths and unique value proposition. Next explore deeply and clarify for yourself what your most important values are. Then set short, medium and long term goals, based on the first two steps. These might have to do with the current job you are in, a hoped for next job or promotion, or a career change of some sort. Try to make these goals as explicit as possible, including detailed action steps and the time frames in which you will take those actions. You might want to tell a trusted friend or co-worker about your plans and ask that person to partner with you regarding your accountability to those action steps.
The key, of course, is not so much which of the goals you achieve, or even when you get there. It is more the matter of moving and keeping yourself from getting stuck again. Once you are moving, it is much easier not only to keep moving, but it will be much more likely that you will achieve your goals. And once you stop and get stuck (whether on stupid or something else), you’ll find it’s much more difficult to get started again and even less likely that you’ll achieve the goals you’ve set out for yourself.
So, don’t get stuck on stupid—get going and keep moving.

Best wishes.

Mark Guterman