3 Symptoms of Being Stuck & How to Cure Them

Do you ever have one of those challenges at work that you just can’t seem to overcome? You’re faced with a critical task, but feel too overwhelmed to make meaningful progress? Yes, those head-banging moments, those empty docs with a blinking cursor, those endless brainstorming sessions, and fruitless Googling. We’ve all felt it. Sometimes this means that you are working towards a solution, however slowly. Other times, it means that you are completely and 100% stuck.

So, how do you know the difference? How do you know when you are, in fact, stuck? This is one of the most common questions we hear from leaders.

To help answer this question, we’ve summarized the three most common symptoms of being stuck – and the best ways to cure them.

What are the Common Symptoms?

  • Team Trouble. You have a fantastic team and you know it, so as you are tackling a new challenge you schedule a series of team meetings –hoping that if you put your heads together enough times, you will eventually find a solution. However, more often than not, you find that these team meetings leave everyone angry, frustrated, and confused. There may be lots of initiatives proposed, but it seems like they are always suggested as someone else’s responsibility.
  • Carbon Copy Chaos. When communicating with your team about this new challenge, you find yourself bringing more people in to the discussion than necessary. For some of us this might mean cc’ing an extra 20 people over email; for others, an extra 300. Either way, you continue to spread responsibility too thin.
  • More Consultants, More Problems. So, working internally has proven unsuccessful. The next logical step is to bring in a set of external consultants. These consultants have the knowledge to help you identify your problems – and they will do so comprehensively – but unfortunately, when it comes time to implement change they are not equipped with the real-world experience to help you. All of a sudden, you’re left with even more questions than you had to begin with and no clear plan for execution. 

Sound familiar? If so, you might be stuck. Don’t panic. This is very common – and it is easily cured.

What is the Treatment?

At the core of this problem is the fact that nobody on your team – nor within your pool of consultants – has ever truly experienced overcoming this challenge in the real world. You all know what you want to do, but you aren’t sure how to do it. You have a great track record, but lack the knowledge and experience for this new challenge.

At GXG, we call this the wisdom gap. For more insight on when wisdom gaps pop up in organizations, check out this post on the Four Zones of Business Growth.  

Based on our body of work, we believe the most efficient and effective way to get “unstuck” and fill a wisdom gap is by connecting with an expert who is equipped with both knowledge of and experience with this new challenge. It may sound radically simple, but few people seek out these types of connections today. With a bit of research you can identify the appropriate expert. (We’ll write a how-to in a future post, but don’t get fixated on people with flashy titles, at big firms, or with TED talks. An expert is anyone with practical experience doing exactly what you are trying to do.) Then you need to intentionally engage them in a structured conversation and, most importantly, document what you learned so you can put those insights into action.

How to Avoid Getting Stuck in the Future

Wondering how you can avoid getting stuck? Oh, that’s simple. You can’t. If you aren’t getting stuck, you probably aren’t stepping outside of your comfort zone – and you know as well as we do that this is no way to lead a successful business.

While you can’t avoid getting stuck, you can avoid staying stuck – by relying on those who already have experience in overcoming a similar challenge. So the next time you’re feeling overwhelmed trying to navigate a critical initiative, remember to seek external wisdom, the combination of knowledge and experience, and you’ll get unstuck in no time!

Every month we collect the latest insights from our research and client work to share.