Tag Archives: lessons learnt

What to Do to Get Unstuck: Lessons From Out of the Maze!

Stuck Turtle On Its Back
Turtle -Stuck- on- It’s- Back-Image

At some point or another, you have experienced a time or moment in your personal or professional life where you have felt stuck. That is, having a worrisome frame of mind where you know that something in your life is not quite right and needs to change, but not being entirely sure of the what, the why, the who, or the when. This feeling of being stuck then resulted in you feeling indecisive, unsettled, or unable to move on or move forward. In this article, I want to explore what feeling stuck looks like  and how to  get unstuck  by applying the lessons from the book  Out of the Maze

Summary of Out of the Maze Book

In one my previous post about dealing with change based on the book Who Moved My Cheese), I shared the parable of four characters (Sniff, Scurry, Hem and Haw) who lived in a dark maze and  loved cheese. They all woke up one day to find that their cheese (what they saw as important in life) had disappeared. All four characters reacted differently to the change in their circumstances and experienced very different results.

In the sequel Out of the Maze, the story picks up with Hem who is left behind and finds himself stuck in a desperate and ‘cheese-less’ situation, feeling afraid, alone, and hungry for new cheese. He spends his time going back and forth between worrying about his friend Haw, blaming him for leaving him and hoping that things would go back to normal.  Day by day Hem’s situation worsened and as he got weaker, Hem realized that he had to do something. Hem saw he could no longer afford to stay and wait for the cheese to reappear and that he would have to go out into the maze and search for new cheese if he were to survive. Though Hem understood what he needed to do and that he was on his own, he still believed the maze was a dangerous place, filled with dark corners and blind alleys that led nowhere.

For days Hem wandered through the maze with his old tools searching for cheese and with no success. Each passing day, Hem grew weaker, hungrier, more discouraged and filled with regret that he hadn’t acted sooner. One day when Hem was feeling he couldn’t go on any further, he met a stranger name Hope who introduced him to apples. Still stuck on finding cheese and believing cheese was the only food there was, Hem took the apple, examined it, but refused to eat it although it smelled good. After some encouragement from Hope and sheer hunger, Hem eventually tried the apple. When he did, Hem was surprised and delighted to discover that he enjoyed the taste of apples and the new burst of energy they gave him to resume his search for new cheese.

For the remainder of the story, Hem came to realize that his old beliefs about cheese had trapped him into one way of seeing things and prevented him from moving forward to find new cheese. Hem decided to let go of his old beliefs, choose new ones, and bravely open himself up to new possibilities (including apples) and a world outside of the maze. In the end and after many failures, Hem is rewarded when he discovered a bigger, better, and brighter world outside of the maze that had cheeses and apples far sweeter than anything he had before.

How to Get Unstuck

What has left you feeling stuck and struggling to move forward in the direction of your life goals and career? What old ideas and thoughts are you still believing about your current situation that might be holding you back?

I’ve have never written an article about a topic that I have not struggled with personally or experienced. So, I can relate to having experienced moments (personal and professional) where I have felt trapped or stuck in situations that I couldn’t seem to make progress on or move forward.  That said, I also know that sitting around waiting and playing victim has never helped me get unstuck, nor will it help you.

Like Hem’s story, at the heart of every situation that has made you feel stuck are the beliefs and thoughts you hold to be true. Beliefs that say – things will never change, I can’t do this or that this goal is impossible or nothing good will ever happen for me. Your beliefs are powerful and can paralyze you into inaction or hold you prisoner in your own home, head, or job. Knowing you want and need more, but not believing you can do better, has led many people to settle for unhealthy relationships that do not serve them well, or to compromise themselves by accepting situations that go against their core values and beliefs.

Out of the Maze -Book Cover -Google Search Image
Out- of- The -Maze -Book- Cover-Google- Image

Six Lessons to Get Unstuck

So, here are six lessons from Hem’s story that you can apply to your own situation to help you get unstuck:

  1. Notice your beliefs: A belief is a thought that you trust is true. But not everything you think is true. Because you trust your old thoughts, you remain a prisoner to old memories and beliefs and sometimes refuse to change or venture outside of your comfort zone to try new things. If you closely examined your thoughts or beliefs, you might realize that some of these trusted thoughts aren’t true and might need to change.
  • Don’t believe everything you think: Sometimes “facts” are just how you see things. But the “facts” you believe are limited to the information you have, your exposures and the meanings you give to events. So, resist the urge to feel threatened or offended when someone challenges your beliefs and don’t be afraid to question and change them on your own.   
  • Let go of what isn’t working:  You can’t launch a new quest with old baggage. Stop blaming others and shaming yourself for the past.  As Einstein said, you cannot do the same thing repeatedly and expect different results. As you move forward, you must be brutally honest with yourself about your patterns, the things you have been doing that no longer work and what you might need to do or look at completely differently.  So, let go of what you have you been dragging around and anything that has left you feeling burdened or stuck.
  • Look Outside the Maze: Consider the unlikely, explore the impossible. The fear of change, the uncertainty it brings, and the challenges associated with trying something new and different are perhaps the biggest reasons people fail to get unstuck. And if you add the fear of failure into the mix, the more likely it is that people will stay stuck in situations no matter how bad they are. However, getting unstuck will require you to have the courage to act towards what you want, though the risks are many and the future is unclear.
  • Choose a new belief: Changing what you think doesn’t change who you are. You get to change an old belief and choose new and different thoughts. Sometimes you hang on to thoughts and beliefs that aren’t working because they are familiar. This is a sub-optimal way to live and will not make you happy or successful. You reserve the right to change your mind, your beliefs and consider what other options available to you.
  • There are no limits to what you can believe: Your whole world is held together by a complex web of beliefs and thoughts that you trust, and hold be true.  You can experience and enjoy a lot more than you think you can. To get unstuck from old cycles, you must choose to have an open mind and believe that something else is possible for you. Have faith to believe it before you see it. As you lean into that hope, commit to exploring, learning, and discovering yourself and the vast world around you.

Feeling stuck is not a death sentence, it is a normal part of life. It signals that something you need to be happy and healthy is lacking or that your need for growth and progress is unmet. Therefore, feeling stuck is your heart, mind, and body’s way of telling you that you need change your approach to make progress in your life, your job and in your relationships.

What will you do to get unstuck?

Until next Remember, ItsALearningLife!

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6 Lessons From 2020 We Should Not Forget in 2021!

Look Ahead, Look Back -Photo
Look Ahead, Look Back

It is a truth universally acknowledged that, 2020 was a year like no other and no one saw it coming. Whether it was the COVID pandemic that shattered our notions of normal, or the physical and social isolation that revealed the quality of our relationships and threatened our mental health/well-being, or the racial and social justice unrest- that resurfaced simmering issues about structural racism, or the elections- that challenged our democracy, or the loss of loved ones that stunned us, the end of 2020 left us with a collective sigh of relief and many lessons.

Though we made it, none of us were left unscathed or unchanged by our experiences. Some of  us entered 2021 with a somber attitude, as many of the issues of  the last year travelled with us into the new one. Others entered 2021, hopeful and cautiously optimistic about their prospects for relationships, health/well-being, career and life in general. In my case, I determined that  for  2021, I will not focus on all the uncertainty looming  in the environment. Instead, I am going to concentrate on the things within my control and push forward. And so, I  have taken all the lessons I have personally learned, insights gained from the  stories I have heard and seen in the media, and come up with six  key takeaways, that I believe can help  you make sense of  the 2020, and continue to  forge ahead in 2021.

Do You Bend or Break-Photo
Do You Bend or Break?

Lessons Learned in 2020

  1. The only thing constant is change’: If  you didn’t  believe that statement before, 2020 and 2021 made believers of  us all. Your ability to pivot and adapt to the rapid pace of change (Happening all around you) has never been more crucial. However, reacting immediately and negatively to these changes, or perspectives that challenge your own, won’t help you cope. That approach, will only only produces stress and conflict, as well as undermine your  personal well-being and overall effectiveness. A better response is to,  increase your ability to manage change, by seeking information and asking questions such as – what can I learn from this and how will I make this change work for me?
  2. Learning never stops: For you to be successful in any of  your roles, you need to stay relevant. This is especially true for both individuals and organizations in times of uncertainty. Keeping abreast of the trends and innovations occurring in your industry, will enable you to demonstrate the capabilities necessary to respond to new developments and challenging situations. So, take responsibility for your own learning and development and proactively look for opportunities to add value to your team and organization.
  3. You are stronger than you know: Your experiences will undoubtedly show you that, you do not grow in places of comfort. Hardships, setbacks, and pain, reveals more to you, about you, than anything else ever could. When faced with a difficult situation,  what matters most,  is not what happened to you, but how you choose to respond.  Choosing to hope, to find the positives and making the decision to not give up, will build your resilience for the next adversity that comes along.
  4. Gratitude is a must:  Amidst all the things  that  you could legitimately complain about, there are still many things that you can be thankful for. Resist the tendency to compare your live to the  “shiny” appearance of others. The grass isn’t greener on the other side. Each and everyone of us is walking through something. Practicing  gratitude can  improve your well-being and happiness. One way to do this,  is to  start or end of your day  by reflecting on, or writing down-  three things that you are grateful for.
  5. Relationships Matter: Times like these remind us that,  our relationships are the most important and valuable currency we have. Here, it is not the quantity of the relationships (like, follows, number of “friends”) that is important,  it is the quality of  our relationships that truly counts. Nurture supportive and  life-giving connections with people with whom you can laugh, cry and relate. Practice tolerance, honesty, patience and forgiveness daily. And, be intentional about reaching out and maintaining  those relationships whether you are social distancing or not.
  6. We are all equal, but We are not all OK: 2020 evoked an heightened awareness of the  simmering issues of  inequity, racism, prejudice and discrimination. The events we witnessed, re-opened many wounds and revealed the painful and deleterious effects that these issues have on people of color. No longer is it OK to say- I didn’t know, I didn’t know what to say, or I was afraid to to speak up. Oftentimes, your silence screams consent and  complicity, or an unwillingness to be our brother’s/sister’s keeper. Each of us have a responsibility to educate ourselves about these issues, show empathy even when its uncomfortable, and to speak up when and where we see something wrong. In the words of Maya Angelou- “Do the best you can until you know better. When you know better, do better.”

Do the best you can until you know better. When you know better, do better.”

What were your lessons learned? Pause and reflect on your experiences in 2020, identify your takeaways, and commit to applying them to making 2021 a better year for you and your loved ones.

Until next time, Remember, It’s A Learning Life!

‘Our relationships are the most important and valuable currency we have.’

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