3 questions to ask when you are stuck

I’m stuck!  Oh, we are. So often!

From time to time, we feel like we are stuck deep mud

Have you ever driven a car into deep mud? It’s infuriating.  Your first impulse is to gun the engine. Your wheels spin. And you sink into the mud!

Arrgh! We got into the mud because we were in a hurry and in frustration we’ve made it even harder to get out!

Knowledge matters when we are stuck in mud

  • Try explaining to a driver stuck in mud that they must inch out!
  • Try explaining that they must put the lightest touch on the accelerator and give the wheels a chance to gain traction!
  • Try explaining that we might need to put something dry under the wheels to give them some grip.
  • Try explaining that pushing and heaving is not the answer.

Patience and know-how is going to win the day!

Change driver? I would but it is your life!

When people sink real cars into real mud, it is often easier to tell them to get out and let me drive the car out. Especially if they are blokes. They don’t listen to women about driving!

But in the real world, you have to drive yourself out. I can’t do that for you.  I am also going to leave you if you are so engrossed in your own wobbly that all you want to do is put your foot on the pedal.

When you are willing to calm down and work patiently to get out of this muddy dilemma, then we can work together.

These are the questions we will ask and answer when you are stuck in mud

  • Where are the wheels? Where are our traction points? Where are our points of contact with the world or the problem?
  • What could we put under the wheels? Is there some gravel or cardboard or grass we could put under the wheels? What can we do to help the world help us?
  • Can we be trusted to put the vehicle in first gear, or even reverse, and apply our feet very lightly to the gas pedal? Can we be relied upon to inch out with out getting into other mud, splattering your helpers, or driving into them? Will you concentrate?

Of course you can get out of a difficult situation

But you have to want to. You have to have some idea that this is an important task. You are going to have to ditch your temper tantrum. You are going to have to work with what is workable – what is in touch with the world and how can we strengthen the connection.  You are going to be controlled – a light touch to allow the world to respond helpfully. You are going to have to know your tools and use them to express your respect to the world.

You can’t try this and then that and then something else. Control is of the essence here.

  • Review the situation and find the points were we make contact with the world.
  • Improve the traction at those points.
  • Inch out using touch-and-feel to improve the traction.

Are you up for getting out of stuck?

Psychologists, mentors, coaches help you keep your nerve. But you will do the work. And you can begin right now by taking a deep breath and listing all the points in the system where something works – anything that works.

Take that list to your psychologist. Well, you might save yourself the fee and solve the problem yourself!

6 steps for executive coaching

Peter J Webb quotes Arlin (1990)’s 6 features of wisdom which make a neat and snappy heuristic for coaching executives and any one else for that matter.

 

Approach a situation by asking questions

1. What do we all agree about?

2. What really matters here?

3. What in our present situation is relevant and different from what we expected?

4. What would be a more interesting way of looking at the world than we did yesterday?

5. How would that perspective expand our agreement and our relationship with the world?

and

6. What could we experiment with and try out right now?

This list is also so useful for personal coaching when some one is in a jam. The “we” in step one simply becomes what is working well in the person’s life.