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  • Writer's pictureDean Moyer

Three Realms of Stuck - Part Three

Before living in Texas, our family lived in the mountains of North Carolina for many years, where snow, an expected winter adventure, was most often manageable. However, that was not the case when there was a lot of ice. I remember attempting to zoom up the snow-covered grade of our steep driveway only to slide helplessly back to the bottom. It didn't matter how many times I tried; I would end up at the bottom. Ice, the unseen adversary, immobilized me. I had to do something different. What would it be? Apply a bag of salt? Put snow chains on the tires? Shovel, scrape the driveway? Wait for someone at the top to pull us up? Wait for the sun to melt the ice? The options were there. To get unstuck, I needed to choose.


If you are following along, last week, we explored three possible areas where we often find ourselves stuck: stuck up, stuck in, and stuck out. Where did you find yourself? What is available to help you gain traction? Let's explore the options together and choose a way out and up. To get at this, we’ll work our way through the framework I introduced last week. Frame, Reimagine, Execute and Enjoy.

F - Frame the problem. Every realm of stuck is situated in some problem. What is yours? Can you name it? Can you frame it? Wil Mancini identifies four necessary components to moving forward: Mission, Values, Strategy and Measures.[1] He suggests drawing a picture frame and placing these four components around each edge. In the center of the picture is your vision – your preferred future. This can be helpful in our discussion as it turns the problem you are facing in to what you would prefer to be true; your vision. Often being stuck comes from a misalignment or absence of one or more of these. Framing gets us on the road to identifying the preferred future rather than dwelling on stuck and what got us there.

Here’s the exercise: Draw a picture frame. Next revisit your personal or organizational mission, values, strategies and measures. If you don’t have these, now would be a great time to clarify them. Now, in the center, write a word or sentence that best articulates what you would prefer your future to be. If you were not stuck, what would it look like? This exercise can take some time. You might find it helpful to find a trusted friend to help you work on this frame and articulating the center, the vision, the destination.

R - Reimagine. Being stuck dampens our dreaming. Framing, while it may look restrictive, actually opens up new windows of possibility. Once framing has identified the vision, we are set free to reimagine, to dream again. What would it look like if…? Can you imagine if…? My dad was a dreamer especially when it came to driving. My brother and his family lived about an hour from our home. There was a direct route to my brother’s house but I don’t think my dad traveled it more than once or twice over the many trips to and from their house. Dad loved to explore new possibilities, new routes, new sights. The destinations never changed but how we got there engaged my dad’s imagination.  


Consider your realm of stuck. What rerouting options are available to you? Have you ever explored them?  Given your frame and what you hope your future to be, start exploring. Seriously, get out a legal pad and your favorite pen and write. Set your timer on your phone for 15 minutes and write. Don’t type. Write. Get what is in your head out on paper. I find it helpful to stand and fill a white board with my thoughts. You might consider doing this for a week during your prime thinking time. After a few days of writing, revisit what you’ve written. What might be emerging as a theme, a new idea? Write one clear and compelling sentence or paragraph that might summarize a direction or next step. Maybe it is a single behavior change, a team realignment, time management, or a conversation that needs to be had. What is it for you?


E - Execute. Given the clarity you may have gained from framing and new possibilities you’ve reimagined, it’s time to execute. Stop it. Start it. Whatever it is just do it. But, can you? I believe execution often fails because of a lack of accountability. When I am training for a running event my initial enthusiasm for the event gets me out the door each morning to run. Well, that is until the third or fourth week and I just want to sleep in. Or I start making excuses when it is rainy or cold or my schedule gets disrupted. I know. I need to lace up the shoes and just get out the door. And so sometimes I say to my wife, “tell me to go run.” I need that verbal kick in the seat of my pants. Even better, if I’ve made a running date with a running buddy I can be out the door in the wee hours of the morning. Why? Accountability. Accountability is an invitation to that trusted person who will hold you to the commitment; that will champion your vision and goals. No successful runner or leader in any realm does so in isolation. Execution is a team sport. If you plan on solving your state of stuck alone you’ll be like Angus, my friend in the pluff mud of the May River. Getting unstuck, as in Angus’s case, and likely yours, some help is needed. This help comes primarily in the gift of people around you.  Who is it for you? Take a moment and name three people you might consider telling your story and asking them to be that hand of help and encouragement. Who might this be? What qualifies someone to help you execute?

Here is my list:

- Someone I trust

- Someone who listens more than they talk

- Someone who asks questions rather than   give answers

- Someone who is for me and my future

- Someone who challenges me with grace


Who will be on your list?





Wise leaders don’t lead alone, especially when they are stuck.



E-Enjoy. Getting unstuck can be hard work. It takes a lot of energy emotionally, mentally and physically. It is important not only during the journey out but when we feel the arrive at the top we pause and enjoy. Enjoyment is the reward our brains need to carry on. In James Clear’s Atomic Habits, he outlines a four-step loop that underlies human behavior. He has developed what he calls Four Laws of Behavior Change:

1. Cue: Make it obvious.

2. Craving: Make it attractive.

3. Response: Make it easy.

4. Reward: Make it satisfying.

If you want to know more about the laws I can recommend the book. For our purposes let’s land on that last one – reward. Enjoy. The bottom line of this behavior is it helps our brains prepare for the next obstacle. There will be more. But without reward, enjoyment of some sort our brains will revolt. If you’ve ever been on a diet, or trained for a marathon, or survived a round of cancer treatment, or made a sales quota you have an idea, even a feeling of what I’m talking about. The finish line is a place of celebration and enjoyment. As you begin your journey of getting unstuck, identify the reward. Take a moment and jot down a few ideas.


-      When I get out of this I am going to…

-      What will be meaningful to my team once we get unstuck?

-      How can I help my organization experience the reward of enjoyment?

 Make it a great day…for someone

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