Unstuck

Unstuck 4.0: Need

need
Why is this work needed now? This question left me stuck for months and months. Stuck because I didn’t ‘know’ the answer. The internal defense attorney pled that it called for facts not in evidence. The internal judge, the only one that matters, feigned indifference and would not rule, so I felt in limbo. The first question, unanswerable. Now what?

We’re all stuck on something all the time. Not that we’re always supposed to be unstuck and flowing, but the impasses, like this infernal why question, sure can prevent progress. I’d intended to finish the book by August, but the question held me through July and August, and then September, too. Shame accumulated like ever-thickening mud on my boot soles until I could barely crawl. I was channeling what I was writing about. Slip over here for more ...

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Unstuck 3.9: Compassionity

complicity
Consider the point beyond which compassion becomes complicity. What began as an act of pure human generosity twists into shame. You thought you might be able to help. Later you learn you’ve been feeding a hungry black hole of need who’s now grown dependent upon you. What will you do?

Of all the many forms of stuck, the muckiest emerge from my compassionate heart. Perhaps I’m playing out some pitiful sort of pity, simply showing myself I care, and I wouldn’t dare deign to demand that you change. True compassion’s never conditional until it must be. After that, it won’t be conditional without more personal change than I ever would have signed up for, had I only known. Slip over here for more ...

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Unstuck 3.8: Situational

outofcontext
Stuckness seems situational; tied to here, not there, or there, never here. It holds some specific space or that space holds it. Whichever, some specific situation seems to knot the ties that truly bind.

I eventually wonder where this specific context lies, for every context contains ten thousand situations; more. Which piece sticks me? I’m facing south, not north. Feet up, not down. Leaning back, not forward. Barefoot, not shod. In a rented room rather than home. Which specific rules this situation, and which shifted specific might unstick me this time? Slip over here for more ...

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Unstuck 3.7: Insufficiency

insufficient
Go ahead and wake up after two and a half hours sleep, then get out of bed. Take a cool shower, get dressed, then get on with your day. I know, there won’t be enough coffee to quite wake you up all day. You won’t be quite hungry enough for such an early breakfast. Eat something anyway. You might well be groggy, but you might be unstuck.

Curious how abundant insufficiency holds such power Slip over here for more ...

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Unstuck 3.6: Inconvenience

inconvenience
I call the Seven Elevens in my neighborhood ‘inconvenience stores’ because each of them seems located safely out of everyone’s way. Neither of the little corner groceries at the end of the block sell anything I use, so I stopped visiting them years ago. Thank heavens. Convenience might be the last thing I need. If I have to go out of my way, I’m more likely to really need whatever I’m chasing.

Modern life seems obsessed with the pursuit of convenience, when we might have noticed that the most important things seem to happen at the least convenient times. It doesn’t follow, though, that surrounding myself with inconvenience might somehow encourage important things to happen. Slip over here for more ...

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Unstuck 3.5: Yet

yet3
The production manager had just finished confiding a dark secret about her problem with another member of the management team. She beamed with the glow of recently expelled demons as I asked, “What did he say when you mentioned this to him?”

”Oh, I haven’t spoken with him, and I won’t. I don’t do stuff like that.”

”Like what?” I wondered.

”I wouldn’t want to embarrass him by bringing it up.”

”But he doesn’t seem aware that he’s bugging you to distraction.”

”Well, he should be! It’s not my job to increase his self awareness,” she insisted.

Stuck, she’d explained her long escalating frustration, boxed in by her insistence that the simplest resolution was beyond her repertoire.

”Well,” she continued, “what are you gonna do about this. You’re the consultant.”

”Nothing.” Slip over here for more ...

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Unstuck 3.4: Faking It

It seems ironic that deliberate self-deception can effectively counter authentic stuckness. I almost always inadvertently sink into stuckness, no volition involved. When I notice the sticking, even deliberately trying to get more stuck can, curiously, end up unsticking me, probably because I’m shifting the inadvertent into the volitional. Sure, I can also unstick by pretending I’m not stuck. Either deception can serve to release the suction for a moment, and nobody needs more than a moment of unstuck to transform that stuck inertia into the other, more mobile kind. Slip over here for more ...
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Unstuck 3.3: Stuckticipation

leaninginto2
I might be at my very best when I’m leaning into my life as if facing a bracing breeze. The pages of the book I’m probably holding, riffling, with the odd one carried away. My hair, uncombable; I squint my eyes as if the wind were filling me with fire. Anticipating.

Life’s probably best lived in fiery anticipation, hot on some trail against buffeting opposition, and worst lived behind any windbreak. The fire in my belly thrives on a steady injection of warm anticipation. Without the opposing force, I can become complacent, I might even stand haughtily tall or, heaven-forbid, lean back in phony repose. Nobody gets anywhere resting behind the laurel bush. Slip over here for more ...

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Unstuck 3.2: Transcendence

choice3
Each and every either-or fully qualifies as a false choice. There’s always an unpresented third, fourth, fifth, sixth ..., ad infinitum choice beyond the presented two. Damned if I do and damned if I don’t both distill into exactly the same result. Another false choice insists that I must either select one of the two damning options or from the infinite population of the not damning ones. I can always refuse to choose.

I’m capable of choosing differently, but I’m also fully capable of forgetting that I always have other choices. I seem to shed options in the essential rush of life, and often miss the exits that might leave me transcending some damning ‘either’ and an equally damning ‘or.’ Slip over here for more ...

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Unstuck 3.1: The Sound of Silence

silence1
Silence on the outside, noisy inside.

We met and thought we might have some work to do together. I followed up with an email later that same day, and you responded within an hour or two, inviting me to coffee or lunch. I replied right away, saying, “You choose the place and the time and I’ll be there.” Then silence ensued.

Now what do I do? The chatter in my head asks a thousand questions. Would another email leave me looking pesky? Should I wait another day before following up? Slip over here for more ...

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Unstuck 3.0: Stucktainty

certainty1
Certainty might qualify as the most dangerous desire yet devised. Zagats should report it over-rated and obsessively pursued. It seems the principle occupation of every fundamentalist, capitalist, conservative, and ninny; me, too.

My forebears crossed the continent by every conveyance then known, including boot leather. Their letters ‘back home’ exhibited not a hint of certainty, ending as they did with the graceful phrase “if I live.” Their present action was not predicated upon anything close to certainty, but faith, mostly the unsupportable kind, which might be the only kind there ever could be. Slip over here for more ...

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Unstuck 2.9: S.I.N.S.

stuck
Stuck Isn’t Necessarily Serious. I can be stuck on you, sweety pie, or stuck in the middle with you, too. (No place I’d rather be!) Standing there hub-deep and all by itself, stuck registers value-neutral. Pooh might have gotten himself wedged in a great tightness, but his distress felt at best comically unfortunate.

The great S.I.N.S. of stuckness arise from taking it too damned seriously. The venal sin of unwarranted seriousness can consume the most upstanding souls. Stuckness, like life, qualifies as just too damned serious be to taken too damned seriously. Slip over here for more ...

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Unstuck 2.8: Paying Attention

PayingAttention
I’m grateful for my selective attention, though I’m not always as selective as I could be. If it weren’t for my natural ability to unconsciously filter my intake, I’d become overwhelmed. My desk top alone could soak up every ounce of my attention because it’s covered with alluring piles and distractions. But some ability enables me to see no distraction there, usually. Same story with my life. Surrounded by bright shinys, I’m often quite naturally unaware.

At a meeting this week, the convener was noticing how inspired she felt in the group. “We should get together more often,” she commented, “so we can get out of our routines and inspire each other.”

On my better days, I seem to find inspiration everywhere. Other times, I could walk untouched through the US Marine Band blaring Sousa marches. Slip over here for more ...

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Unstuck 2.7: The 8th Habit

marymeng
Whatever seven habits I might train into myself, it seems I need an eighth; one reserved to break out of the seven habit trance. The chief difficulty with habituating anything comes from the blinders habits bring. Sometimes even the otherwise best habit needs breaking to get myself unstuck.

The 8th Habit might be called the habit-breaking habit. The first time, I struggled to escape a habitual. The second time, I perhaps struggled a little bit less. The third time, the effort was still great, but my experience informed my escape. Now, with decades of experience, I have a bit of a clue about what to do. Slip over here for more ...

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Unstuck 2.6: The Merry-Go-Round

MGR
The finest learning medium ever invented must be the merry-go-round. That one in the corner of the park, beside the swings, just down from the teeter-totters. I doubt that there’s a kid in the world who hasn’t dislocated their shoulder grabbing one of those spinning handholds. The merry-go-round never sat still, or, perhaps more appropriately, an unspinning merry-go-round never attracted a kid. No nothing to spinning it yourself. The first lesson: Every interesting merry-go-round is already spinning when a kid shows up. Slip over here for more ...
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Unstuck 2.5: In Deep

InDeep
It probably doesn’t matter how any of us descend. Blame the long float down on gravity. Each of us knows the depths, that sinking feeling that we’ve passed the last exit and the trend has turned irreversible. Bye bye.

For me, lately, it’s come from not being able to figure out the too-cleverly designed user interface. Someone sends me a message via LinkedIn (What IS that for, anyway?) or some other overly-secure social networking site, and I just cannot get in to respond. I must have an account, or I would not have received the message. But I cannot, for the life of me, figure out how to get past the largely unnecessary security. My password doesn’t grok or my username isn’t registered. I slink to my corner and sulk. Slip over here for more ...

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Unstuck 2.4: Echo

echo
Learning to speak for myself as an independent practical reasoner confronts a number of different kinds of obstacles:

1- Failure to re-educate my originally infantile desire to please others may result in my becoming someone whose opinions are indefinitely responsive to a pressure to conform to the opinions of certain types of others ... What I present is an unconscious need for approval.

2- Infantile resentment of my need to please others — a relentless pursuit of disagreement.

In both cases, I’m an echo, not a voice.

I might also distrust my reasoning by unconsciously selective attention to some features at the expense of others. Overcome by having reasoning put into question by others.
Alasdair MacIntyre, Dependent Rational Animals
Slip over here for more ...

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Unstuck 2.3: Fits and Starts

fitsandstarts
I can still hear my Quantitative Methods prof extolling the powers of smoothing algorithms. With them, anyone can construct a curve to represent a scattered collection of otherwise apparently random data points, and perhaps convince themselves that experiences really are related somehow. It’s a believable, often useful fiction.

Make no mistake, no moment provides smoothing algorithms. Creativity might depend upon their absence. They’re incredibly useful after the fact for making sense of—making up a soothing story about—the past. In real time, going forward, experience seems more fit-and-starty. Slip over here for more ...

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Unstuck 2.2: Radical Acceptance

acceptance
”Why do you suppose he always acts like a snake?,” my client asked.

”Probably because he’s a snake.”

”Wha ??”

As I consultant, I describe myself as an expert at not being an expert. I know little about what my clients do as a business, but their technical details don’t usually get in their way. Something right before their eyes more often seems to.

Organizational difficulties emerge within a context I could not have access to or knowledge about before I’m poking around within that space. I am not nor will I ever be a content or process expert. As an expert at not being an expert, I rely upon my perception much more than my knowledge because I couldn’t possibly know beforehand. My contribution most often distills into simple observation. Slip over here for more ...

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Unstuck 2.1: Do Not Read This

donotreadthis
One of the most popular ways to fail to influence another involves giving them something to read, especially if you intend it to be for their own good.
Attach it as a .pdf.
Post it to FaceBook.
Have Amazon send them a copy of the book.

I know, you want to share the confirming/enlightening/moving/life-changing experience you had when you read it, but you won’t. If they read it —I said IF —, they’ll read it as them, not you. They’ll have their own experience, not yours.

If they’re a partisan, they might appreciate the reinforcement of the beliefs you already share. If not, their perspective’s at best unlikely to change. More likely, they’ll interpret it as propaganda, and you’ll end up reinforcing just what you didn’t want. You’ll probably make ‘em angry, too. At you.

So what’s a mutha to do? Slip over here for more ...

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Unstuck 2.0: Copeless

hopeless
They say hope’s not a strategy, except it seems to pass as one much of the time. Hope’s supposed to spring eternal, but when it won’t, I lose the spring in my step. How do I cope with that?

Cope does qualify as a strategy, especially when hope refuses to spring. Copelessness might be the worse outcome, much worse than hopelessness ever could be. Hope seems so pull-myself-up-by-my-bootstraps-ish, so notional. The logic doesn’t work; not even Archimedes could find any leverage point there. Slip over here for more ...

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Unstuck 1.9: Stucked

I create my own sticking points with such dazzling skill that it seems as though someone else just has to be conspiring against me. So far, though, whenever I’ve poked around any personal stuckness I’ve found my own fingerprints all over the crime scene. I have no clue how I’ve been so uniquely blessed with this ability to hog-tie myself without ever catching on that I’m doing the tying again. Later, once I’m stuck, I might be able to lever myself back into motion, but in the moment before I mire in, I rarely catch myself ensnaring myself.

I’m stucked. Slip over here for more ...

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Unstuck 1.8: Professional Crastination

thinker
Some seem born to run. Others, to ruminate. The runners chide over their sweating shoulders as they zoom by like Hares humiliating us Tortoises. I think I know who’ll win the race.

On my better days, their derisions breeze over me like warm wind. On worse days, they wound like arrows through my heart. For I am a professional crastinator. I’ve rarely found advantage taking the early lead. I need and benefit from an essential milling around period first. Slip over here for more ...

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Unstuck 1.7: Dread Not

dreadnot
An Angel of the Lord came down from Heaven, appearing to an ignorant shepherd boy, saying, “Fear not for I bring you tidings of great joy.” Under the eternal law of unintended consequences, that stupid shepherd reported the incident, and the people of this world have struggled ever since to overcome that innocently misunderstood injunction to be unafraid, thereby inspiring every following generation to be afraid; very afraid.

Do angels trade in paradox? This particular Angel of the Lord passed, like a window-rattling fart in very quiet church, a particularly knotty one: The Not Knot. Slip over here for more ...

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Unstuck 1.6: In-Smart

celticheart
I tangle my heart strings whenever I out-source what only my heart could ever understand. I’ve learned to second-guess myself.

I claim that I’ll know it when I see it, but I probably won’t. Worse, I’m prone to concluding that I know simply because I see something. Where matters of the heart are concerned, I’m naturally in-smart. If I out-source when I’m in-smart, I consistently out-smart myself.

Almost any choice will do. Where would you like to go to dinner? Gosh, I don’t know, where would you like to go? Lemme check the Going Out Guide to see what the restaurant reviewer who’s opinions I don’t respect advises. He suggests a place that ends up serving small plates at astronomically high prices in deafening surroundings. We out-sourced what we might have more satisfyingly resolved with our in-smarts. We successfully out-smarted ourselves. Slip over here for more ...

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Unstuck 1.5: Coming True

future
Of all the perils humans seem prone to, dreams carry the greatest threat. I’m capable of transporting myself anywhere when sleeping, but not even nightmares can bring half the terror our waking dreams should. I can stick myself far into the future, anchor my presence there, and sleepwalk through the present as if today were mere medium instead of living life. I can also stick myself into the distant past, never noticing real, live days slipping by. Scary.

I was fortunately born in the most modern of times. I felt uncommonly lucky to be living where the future had over-taken all of prior human history, on the prow of time. Later, I learned to focus ever further into the future, and my present started walking backwards. Slip over here for more ...

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Unstuck 1.4: Complitition

Finishline
I live immersed in myth and metaphor. I hold far too many truths to be self-evident. I swallow a steady stream of pre-conscious interpretations, hardly noticing how this circularity gets me stuck. I engage ‘as if’ without questioning if ‘if’ really ‘is,’ or ever could be.

One of the dominant metaphors in this society equates our very existence to competition. This small projection encourages much stuckness. I find it almost impossible to accept that Darwin never did conclude that competition determines the survival of the fittest. But he didn’t. Slip over here for more ...

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Unstuck 1.3: Unthinkable

Unthinkable
Turns out that the unthinkable isn’t unthinkable. Unthinkable has been worked into one of those expressions that doesn’t mean what it says, but says exactly what it means.

What does it mean? It means ‘something I could never see myself doing.’ In this guise, the unthinkable binds stuckness. I can watch that guy over there getting away with what ‘I could never see myself doing,’ and just sit. Firm in my belief of what ‘I could never see myself doing,’ I’ll choose to do anything, anything but THAT! Slip over here for more ...

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Unstuck 1.2: The 1% Resolution

refre
Problem-solvers that we pride ourselves on being, it seems galling when some nimble nimrod slips one of those sinkerball-slick resolutions into the game. We’re out gathering specifications or envisioning outcomes while some twerp walks away already satisfied. How do they do that?

Part of their magic must be linguistic. They label what we call problems ‘difficulties.’ Problems, they’ll explain with hardly any encouragement, have solutions. Not all difficulties qualify as problems because some of them couldn’t possibly have solutions, or we’ve never once seen them solved. It’s futility incarnate to force-fit some solution onto something that never qualified as a problem in the first place. Slip over here for more ...

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Unstuck 1.1: That Damned Box

insidebox
A steady diet of helpful homilies qualifies as one of the reliably better ways to stay stuck. Go ahead, think outside the damned box and see what that gets you, really. Make a freakin’ ASS out of U and ME, assume yourself into a coma if you can. Nobody ever assumed them selves out of any coma.

Stuck’s tenacity thrives on ‘all ya gotta dos;’ the more uplifting, the more encumbering. ‘All ya gotta do’ easily transforms into ‘you really shoulda already,’ and the stuckness hugs even harder.

You might more productively peek outside the box than think outside it. Slip over here for more ...

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Unstuck 1.0: The Prague Paradox

praguemap
Check into any hotel in Prague and you’ll receive a brightly-colored tourist map of the city. In small print at the bottom of this map, you’ll find a caution like this:

The streets of Prague cannot be accurately represented on a map. This map, therefore, is not correct. Following it, you might find yourself lost from time to time. Fortunately,
getting lost is the best way to discover Prague. Slip over here for more ...
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