First in a series of articles on “getting unstuck” in business and life
In March of last year, Jordan Peele was the first black person to win an Oscar for best original screenplay for Get Out, which he was also nominated for directing. In his acceptance speech, he described how he almost did not finish the screenplay for the movie:
"This means so much to me. I stopped writing this movie about 20 times, because I thought it was impossible," he said during his acceptance speech. "I thought it wasn't going to work. I thought no one would ever make this movie. But I kept coming back to it because I knew if someone let me make this movie, that people would hear it and people would see it. So I want to dedicate this to the people who raised my voice and let me make this movie."
Like Jordan, each of us has two choices to make with any life decision. We can choose to act on our values of safety and security and be less than we want to be. It's easy and requires less discipline and is often immediately pleasurable . The result is life with little purpose, happiness, and increased self doubt.
Alternatively, we can act on what deeply matters to us to persevere through our self doubts and our fear. We can choose to grow through failures and many challenges to accomplish as much as we can, in the direction of our strengths. The result will be life with purpose, meaning, accomplishment, strong relationships and happiness.
In the case of the first choice, the voice inside your head will be saying "What if my business idea fails?” "What if my feedback makes the situation worse?" “I am such a fraud . What am I doing in this role”
Can you hear the fear, self doubt, or hesitation in any of these voices? It leads to excessive hesitation or sometimes giving up on your plan before you have even begun . Fear and self doubt defeat more good projects and optimal moments in our life than failure ever will. It often feels safer to choose to give up or delay than to risk the shame of failure. These kind of thoughts come from what is called our "thinking mind" .
It turns out that we can only get minimally unstuck by trying to push down our thinking mind thoughts, thinking positively or by analyzing why we have them. Research from Acceptance and Commitment therapy offers some of the best advice on getting unstuck -- in a way that lasts. Practicing these principles or steps give us the freedom to take another path if the one we are on does not work out.
At Career Aviators, we take a seven step approach to getting unstuck:
One of the most important steps is to realize that in day to day life we have two minds, a thinking mind which is driven by the oldest part of our brain and an observing mind. Our thinking mind is perfectly designed to help us with practical planning and problem solving but its not built to solve emotional or relationship problems. It is set up to protect us. It’s the part of the brain that holds us back from starting that business, giving staff feedback, or moving forward when we feel like we are a fraud.
Once we separate the two minds, we can use our observing mind to watch our thinking mind in action. Just noticing that one's thinking mind is trying to “run the show” is often enough to reduce its influence over us, freeing us to act on our strengths and in the direction of our values. We then take steps to move forward In the face of our fear or doubts. Each time we do, we become stronger and more successful.
In our work with clients, we find that getting unstuck, in a lasting way, happens when this is regularly practiced together with the other steps in the process: being present, creating a new story, getting clear on our happiness and renewal and firmly acting on our strengths in the direction of our values.
Wayne Greenway is Senior Partner with Career Aviators, a Certified B Corporation® that directs all profit to innovative youth leadership initiatives in Guelph, Ontario, Canada. He is proud of a 93% success rate in helping helps clients from across Canada to find jobs in which they will excel, value highly and love to do. Helping clients to get unstuck and move forward in career and business decisions is a regular part of his work. He is becoming known as a thought leader in this area.