Category Archives: stuck/unstuck


Kids are supposed to grow. But they don’t always do it. Sometimes they get stuck. Adults are supposed to be “grown up”. but does that mean that they don’t need to grow anymore? Is being grown up mean being stuck?

These are identity questions. And I would argue that living life in a strategic manner means building identity – or more simply, ongoing growth. Not “continuous”, but “ongoing”. Why not continuous? Because in life we do get stuck from time to time. We can’t help it. And we get stuck we stay stuck until we can break out.

So in a sense, there are two strategic modes. One is handling growth and the other is learning how to break out. Both happen. But they pose different  sorts of challenges. In this post, I am most interested in the idea of being stuck. I think this scene from the “Lord of the Rings” when Gandalf rescues Théodin, King of Rohan from being stuck under a wicked spell, brings to life what breaking out might look like

It’s nice to have a wizard around to help you break out. And they are to be found in real life if you need one.

It’s OK Not to Know the Answer

Yet another article about the dangers of exaggerated fear of failure. The basic point here is that society is evolving at an accelerating rate. We cannot know how this will play out with 100% accuracy. So staying in a fixed posture, expecting no change, is foolish. Ironically, this is why we should not rely on experts to predict the future. They are too heavily invested in their individual field or domain to see the interactions between domains.

Getting Smacked versus Getting Stuck

Over the past year, I have seen and experienced quite a few instances of “getting smacked”. You might call these instances “reality sandwiches”. We all have to deal with these moments in life. And you can credibly argue that the quality of our lives depend heavily on how we emerge from the experiences.

The worst effect is when we get stuck. When we can’t find a way beyond the hurt. When the hurt keeps coming back in an echo effect. The longer we allow this to continue, the more the wound festers. Somehow we need to put an end to it.

But how? It can be very hard to get the engine started again and move forward. It can be scary too. The known pain — as bad as it may be — is a familiar and predictable feeling. Some even become addicted to it as a reminder that they do actually feel.

The quickest way I know to get that engine going is to recognize that dwelling on the pain is a way to feel sorry for yourself. When you boil it all down, being stuck is an excuse for not living. When you put it in these terms, things get a bit more clear.

Rick Smith: Accelerated Learning

There is no question that over the last 500 years or so, mankind has accelerated its learning. What is going on? Have we been visited by aliens more often? The answer  is so simple that we don’t see it.  As Rick Smith points out, we more regularly and more systematically test our assumptions about what is going on around us.

And we do well to do the same with regard to assumptions about ourselves. Join the adventure!

Charlotte Lieberman: What Passion?

Do what you love or love what you do? It is an age old question for people starting out in life. And back in the 1970’s, Joe Campbell delivered some misleading advice. He urged people to “follow their bliss!” It sounds great. But what does it mean? Most often, it meant indulging the ego.  As Charlotte Lieberman points out, this is not great strategy.

Can we do better? Of course! The first step is to cultivate a love for learning. Come join the adventure!

The Ten Minute Rule

Jim Loehr warns us of the dangers of getting exhausted, and he is right. He is not talking about physical exhaustion, but emotional exhaustion. That is the feeling that you just can’t go on. Life is just too damned hard. He offers a simple solution – emotional training. It is just like physical training. You stress yourself only so far, and then you rest.

I call this my ten minute rule. I monitor my engagement level and switch focus around every ten minutes or so. If you want more strategic thinking about focus, join the adventure!

Gerd Gigerenzer – Risk Literacy

As modern folks, we get used to the idea that life is fairly secure. Risks are manageable. That is the appearance, and media reinforces this in its messaging. We can be free to have fun at the beach because shark attacks are rare and sunburn can be treated. That confidence is critical to keep things moving. But it is not a confidence based on analytical certainty. To the contrary, it is confidence based on risk management.

Gerd Gigerenzer is an expert on this and here is what he says

… (these days) we need risk literacy. I believe if we teach young people, children, the mathematics of uncertainty, statistical thinking, instead of only the mathematics of certainty – trigonometry, geometry, all beautiful things that most of us never need – then we can have a new society which is more able to deal with risk and uncertainty.

No question about it. And this need to act in the fact of uncertainty is at the heart of strategic learning. Learning from what we believe and what we do about it over time to create incredible stories about the lives we share.