We all experience moments of feeling stuck in various aspects of our lives. Whether it's driven by fear, a sense of powerlessness, or a loss of confidence, these periods can hinder our progress and success. When it comes to business and leadership, being stuck can be particularly detrimental to our outcomes and influence.
Often, the root cause of feeling stuck lies in our beliefs about ourselves or a lack of self-belief altogether. These beliefs may have initially been adopted with the intention of being helpful, but over time, they have transformed into obstacles that keep us stagnant and anxious about our next moves.
So much of life revolves around setting goals or making plans, and then working gradually toward what we want. But sometimes we don't know what we want — or how to get it. It's normal to experience moments of feeling lost or directionless; whether we've just reached a longtime goal or had a big upheaval dropped into our laps, there are plenty of reasons we might not know our next move. It is all about our mindset.
The only real way to get unstuck is to start making moves. That might mean finding a new goal or passion to focus on, a philosophy or faith to keep us going, or a part of ourselves we either thought was gone or didn't know existed in the first place. As author J.R.R. Tolkien wrote, "Not all those who wander are lost." Whether we've been wandering for a little or a long while, all it takes is one decision to set us on a path again. It is all about our choices.
In the realm of education, just as explorers consult their compasses when traveling in unfamiliar territory, educators need to consult their professional compass. Our compass, however, does not point north but is directed toward helping students learn. Every issue, decision, and allocation of resources must be judged based on its consistency with the purpose of our compass—student learning.
By remaining clear and consistent in our pursuit of and support for student learning, we can effectively monitor our direction and make course adjustments when necessary. Like explorers, we need to frequently consult our compass and make the necessary adjustments along the way. But unlike a physical compass that can be carried in a pocket, our compass resides in our hearts and minds. It is a guiding principle that should shape every aspect of our educational practice, from curriculum design to teaching methodologies and student support.
Walt Disney once beautifully captured the essence of curiosity as a driving force in our lives. He said, "We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things because we're curious, and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths." As educators, our compass should not only guide us in helping students learn but also ignite and nurture their curiosity. By embracing our own curiosity and fostering it in our students, we create an environment where learning becomes a lifelong journey of exploration, growth, and transformation. Let us hold our compass close, consult it frequently, and continue to open new doors of knowledge and opportunity for ourselves and our students.
If you find yourself struggling and in need of a simple yet effective way to break free from this state of being stuck, here are strategies you can try:
We have all had to make changes over our careers and to adjust to new circumstances. However, the foundation of who you are should never change. Your core values and beliefs should always stay and get stronger as you grow. If during the process of being stuck you question your core values, talk to a trusted mentor, leader or coach. Staying in a place where your values are not aligned, will always end with you feeling “stuck”.
Progress cannot be achieved without action, even if that action begins with a small step. It's up to you to initiate the process. Once you start, each subsequent step becomes easier, until eventually, what once seemed impossible becomes your reality.