We all have at one time or another experienced a version of stuck. Feeling isolated and frustrated. In the moments that surround needed action, we discover a place to hide and hate. It’s in this place where we beat ourselves up with words and thoughts that we would never wish on anyone else and drift into a mindset of anger and anxiety. We hate stuck, we despise the feelings associated with it yet we find ourselves there more than we would like or admit. So how do we get stuck? How do we slide into this state of thinking and self-loathing behaviors?
Here are 5 styles of stuck that can hang us up and hold us back from our best and greatest work.
The Tunnel Visionary…blinded to new possibilities
This is when we have a picture that we can’t seem to get out of our head. Comes from an inspiration and we want everyone else to feel what we have felt. The result is a picture focus that is hard to understand and difficult to bring to life. Often the leader doesn’t want to reveal the picture as to give away the inspiration and origin, however the result leads to chaos and tension around what the leader wants and his or her ability to articulate the picture.
By the time the vision begins to take shape the season of the opportunity often passes and the leader locks in and drives harder towards the picture.
The team knows it’s not going to work and the leader believes that the team is out to sabotage the vision. The exodus begins and either people leave for better opportunities or the leader releases them because they are underperforming and cannot pull it off. At the end of the day the leader, still locked in, is frustrated and alone and eventually hits the wall, his influence and the company’s growth and success are at risk and something needs to be done.
The Waffler…unable to decide
In this scenario the leader is afraid. Fearing both success and failure and unsure of which they would rather encounter. If I succeed can I maintain and advance the new level of expectations? And if I fail will I be able to continue in my role and live in the comfort zone that I created in the process? The leader eventually tries to shake the “stuck” by looking someplace else to land, confusing that transition for advancement and progress never fully living through the challenges of both success and failure.
The Reluctant Adapter…resisting change
AKA malignant cooperative. This leader is a close relative of the Waffler. All talk and no action, asking for input and ideas only to find ways to complicate and confuse the idea in the mess of the current version of stuck. They nod their head with approval and then they do nothing to bring the ideas to life. When it inevitably comes to a predictable fail, the leader says, “I wasn’t really for that idea anyway” or “it lacked bla bla bla complexity language bla bla.” Often the Reluctant Adapter knows what to do or knows what needs to be done but is undone by their own picture of perfection on their terms. Only problem is their terms produce little or no effective results and the leader often exits saying, “those guys just don’t get it.”
The Idle Achiever…stalled by the details
Ok…this is the thing……. Ok…..what about?…..Ok we need to have a meeting…..ok……
This leader often has experienced some level of success in an organization, which leads to the challenge. They fear losing ground gained and have locked the past success in the safe of their minds along with the secret sauce. At one time they were the instigator of change and championed the next level. Now they become the guard of it – details, details, details. The bar is so high from past success they often feel that new ideas need to take or must take the old path to success. Worked before and should work now, but….is your secret sauce as good as the old secret sauce……?
So we want more info, with more meetings, with more opinions all designed to remember the good old days while spinning an idea to its detailed death with no chance of implementation. The leader eventually loses on two fronts – (1) everything has to be so perfect that eventually nothing comes their way and (2) the team becomes cynical and undermines the leaders influence. Mental mutiny or anarchy begins and the team begins to go rogue and hijack the process doing their own thing. The leader is marginalized and eventually leaves.
The Ad Libber…..off the cuff and off the mark
I suffer from this one a bit, I think it is because of what experts call, Anxiety Based Performance. When a leader is in a state of uncertainty and anxiety there are a few who can reach incredible levels of focus. The body releases adrenalin and cortisol, often called the fight or flight chemicals. The body’s reaction to that combo varies but it’s safe to say that when those kick in it’s like you go into hyper focus. This combo also works when you are being chased by a bear or attacked by super villain. This combo can be incredibly addictive when you come out of the other side of the situation as the body releases another chemical called dopamine. Dopamine is also released in significant amounts when you eat warm chocolate chip cookies with a cold glass of milk. For the Ad Libber this is a dangerous form of stuck. There is little or no sustainability with that way of working. It puts you and your leadership at risk because over time you will burn out and just prior to that your team will burn out on you and your addiction for adventure. The results often are brutal and can lead you into treatment or worse a hospital.
There are many forms of stuck, more than we can cover in this short post. It’s important to understand that getting stuck is real and knowing what kind of stuck your experiencing is half the battle to break out of it. If you find that your experiencing one or two of these versions of stuck take the time to detach yourself from the situation at hand and evaluate it. This provide you a moment of perspective and clarity. It’s in that moment you can step away and seek counsel and pursue a different approach or solution. Clarity and priority will give you capacity and freedom and let’s be honest you’re a better leader when you’re in the state of Unstuck!
Smile, the next level awaits.