How to move ahead when you feel stuck..

Here’s a workplace squeeze. You have been trying to make headway with a project or a task and it just does not seem to be working for you. You feel challenged by this, so what can you do?
Steven Covey, author of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, has written that sometimes the way we see the problem is the problem! Albert Einstein is reported to have said that you can never solve a problem on the level on which it was created.
I am no Einstein, so for a long time I never really knew what that meant but I get it now. And what I get connects with Covey’s point about “seeing” the problem.
Robert Dilts has developed a model of thinking called Neurological Levels. This can be presented as six focal points: Environment; Behaviour; Capabilities; Values and Beliefs; Identity; and Mission or Beyond Identity. The model has generated opposing views. Don’t you just love it when that happens? I do. Maybe the truth lies somewhere in the middle. Anyway, some have criticised it saying it doesn’t make sense while others, recognising its limitations, report that the technique still works a treat . Why not check out the articles at those two hyperlinks and make up your own mind?
Here’s what I do when I am stuck and can’t make headway. If there is no one in the office, I place 6 sheets of paper on the floor – well spaced out. On each is written one of the words above. Then I stand on each piece of paper in turn and think about the word and how it relates to the challenge. The area of stick usually shows up! Then the question arises, “So what am I going to do about it?
That’s where Einstein comes in. Remember, “You can never solve a problem on the level on which it was created”. When you get to the stuck area, think about the other levels or focal points. Anything need to shift there? Any changes needed?
For example, if you have issues about your capabilities – (I used to wonder if I was good enough or when I would be found out; how about you?) – have a think about your values and beliefs. What’s important about what you do? What do you believe about yourself? Then carry this into the area of identity and think again. And then mission. What comes up? What are you learning?
The cleaners have caught me doing this – I wonder if they think me untidy. So for busy periods during the day when people are around here’s what I do:
As I prefer to do this exploration physically, I take out an A4 file sheet that I keep in my desk. On it are printed all the words above, again well spaced out. Then I take a coin and move it slowly around the page, stopping to explore where I am stuck. Referring to next levels or focal points I figure out what I might do about it.
Maybe it’s just having taken the time to think about a problem from different angles but I find that the solutions come.
Sometimes I use this technique with colleagues to help them work through their challenges.
Usually they hold on to the coin and keep the change!

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