Get Unstuck

Bill Abbate

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What do you do when you find yourself in a situation where you feel stuck in life? You sense there's something more, something better "out there" somewhere, and you have no idea what it is or how to get there.

Finding the Right Answer

To get the right answer, ask the right question. And how do you do that? Where do you start? Begin working on your questioning skills.

With a little effort, you can significantly improve your ability to ask better questions. It only takes practice, curiosity, and maintaining the right disposition about whatever the subject is. You have spent your life asking questions, but you can ask better, more powerful questions by learning some basics.

One of the most important things you can do to ask more powerful questions is to gauge how serious you are about finding the answer. Whether you like the answer or not. Yet once you have the answer, you can get unstuck. Sometimes you must get rid of something to move forward to create what you desire.

Before exploring exactly how to get unstuck, let's look at a couple of practical examples of how asking the right questions in the right frame of mind can work.

Example - The Right Questions (curiosity)

Some years ago, I had the responsibility of turning a company around. Since the company was losing a great deal of money, my first question came from genuine curiosity yet was very simple. It was, "What do I need to know?" This led us on a search to understand where the company was, how it got there, what was currently happening, and how we could create an effective path toward change. Change, in this case, meant stopping the loss of $1.5 million per month and beginning to turn a profit.

During my investigation, many other questions surfaced, which led to a deeper and more thorough understanding of the root issues. This set us up to make better decisions to obtain the best and quickest results possible. We then mapped out and began taking action to create something different and soon turned the company around. It was not overnight but what the team did was quite an accomplishment! It's one thing to focus on cutting losses, yet quite another to change direction while eliminating losses and producing greater results.

Example – The Right Natural Disposition (attitude)

Think about anything you have a strong interest in, such as a hobby. I love photography, and because of my passion for taking pictures, I've learned a great deal about cameras, lenses, and light.

There is so much to learn, and so many new things happening in photography, it has been a lifelong learning experience. One I enjoy immensely. There's always some innovation in equipment or technique that spurs my interest. The point here is it's hard to get stuck if you have a yearning to continue learning.

What continues to capture your interest, and how much more could you learn about it if you kept asking questions?

The Solution

"You are not stuck where you are unless you decide to be." Wayne Dyer (1940-2015)

You may have noticed one question leads to another, which leads to more questions. A good question often does that, especially if it's an area that intrigues you. A good question will open you to new thoughts and understanding, unearthing more to explore.

These new thoughts and greater understanding will lead to even more queries, continuing the cycle. Notice the see-think cycle in the middle of the following graphic. Questions form within this see-think cycle. Your curiosity and disposition (attitude) will determine the strength of your questions, leading you to get unstuck and create what you want.

Powerful questions are crucial to expanding your knowledge base. As you enhance your internal knowledge, you See opportunities you might have otherwise missed. You can then Think thoughtfully to make better choices, Act on them, and Reap results that would not have happened otherwise.

This is the foundation of the S.T.A.R. Approach to life in my book, Uncommon Sense. In a nutshell, it is Seeing in new ways, Thinking new thoughts, taking new Actions, and Reaping new results.

Let's apply the simple technique of the S.T.A.R. Approach to getting unstuck.

Name It (See)

Define where you're stuck using as few words as possible, and if you can do it with one word, wonderful.

Some examples could be your – work, job, school, relationship, finances, spiritual growth, personal growth, finishing your book, etc.

Now let's get specific. Name the exact sticking point. It could be your position, pay, location, company, or a hundred other things in your job. In your work, it could be your performance, creativity, too much stress, being bored, too much travel, the boss being downright mean/bad/nasty, or anything else. Write the answer on a clean sheet of paper in as few words as possible.

Frame It (Think)

Once named, you must become seriously curious about why you're stuck. Now write short, concise answers (bullet points work well) for each of the following questions:

  • What is currently happening to make me feel stuck?
  • How did I get here?
  • What responsibility do I have for being here?
  • What is my attitude?
  • What am I missing?
  • What else?

Claim It (Act)

This is where we move what is happening internally to take action steps externally, starting the creation process (see S.T.A.R. drawing.) Internally your disposition or attitude is critical, as it will propel you externally into action.

Write answers to the following questions:

  • What do I want? (list as many answers as possible to this and each of the following questions.)
  • What do I absolutely need?
  • What does the opposite of being stuck look like?
  • What CAN I do?
  • What are my next steps?
  • What is one thing I can do right now?
  • What is one thing I can do tomorrow?
  • What is one thing I can do this week, next week, this month, next month, this quarter, next quarter, this year, next year? (exhaust this question as fully as you can.)
  • How can I hold myself accountable for making this happen?

Receive It (Reap)

As you take each action, results will undoubtedly follow. If you are thoughtful and diligent, you can make it happen and not just get unstuck but create something much better! Don't forget to celebrate each success. Remember, what you appreciate appreciates!

Final thoughts

Follow the simple process outlined above, and you can get yourself unstuck from practically anything in life. More importantly, imagine what can happen on the other side!

Don't forget the two essentials to asking good questions – curiosity and attitude. Without these as the driving force, even the best questions may fall short of getting you unstuck and creating something new and better in your life.

I challenge you to do the work. Get unstuck. Begin creating what you want in your life! You deserve it!

"If you don't like who you are and where you are, don't worry about it because you're not stuck either with who you are or where you are. You can grow. You can change. You can be more than you are." Zig Ziglar (1926-2012)

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Semi-Retired-Leadership/Executive Coach -Personal & Career Growth Expert -Editor and Leadership Writer at Illumination -Author

Richmond, VA
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