You’re Not Stuck… You’re Impatient.

by Taylor Deer

Getting stuck is a symptom. Its something that appears as result of something larger than itself. Stuck is a specific word, with a specific meaning, and we only deploy it at specific times.

My tractor is stuck in a ditch.

I’m stuck on this math problem.

I’m stuck in traffic.

At first glance, it usually means that we are stopped. But, taking a longer look at the word, there is a second implication when we choose to use that word over other words that are close to it. Why do we use stuck over words like stopped, halted, slowed, or arrested? It’s obvious why we don’t say, “I got arrested in traffic” as a substitute. However, when we really focus on how we put stuck into context, we usually use it when two criteria are filled. One is that “I am stopped”, physically or mentally. The second is “…and I feel like I should be somewhere else.”

Therein lies the problem with our use of the word stuck. Impatience

When something stops us, our minds continue to move on forward, to where we should be. That continuance forward is what causes emotions like frustration, anger, and anxiety. When we get stuck in traffic, the only thing that makes us mad is when our thoughts drift to what should be happening right now, and it isn’t happening. “Crap I’m in traffic, (anxiety) I should be at this meeting by now!” Or when we get stuck on one problem in a work assignment, “Dang, this is going to take an hour longer to finish, (anger) I could be watching the game right now!”

So it’s not the stoppage that angers us. It’s ourselves. Our own brain sabotages us when it creates the gap between what is actually happening and what should be happening. So, if we could eliminate the “should be happening” part, we could eliminate the negative emotions that come with it.

All this wouldn’t be so bad if these negative emotions didn’t impact us so drastically. Impatience clouds our judgment, it justifies and convinces us to try crazy shortcuts that our normal working brain would never do. It causes us to zig zag through traffic, double the speed limit, and risk hurting others and ourselves. It causes us to call up a friend, decide to cheat, and copy their answers.

Saying “I’m stuck” implies that the stoppage before you is insignificant. Our impatience kicks in and we immediately start looking for ways just to get past the problem “so we can just move on” rather than finding a solution. Effective problem solving and getting “unstuck” starts with sitting down and facing the stoppage. Valuing the stoppage enough to respect it, to honor it, and to come up with a solution that shows respect to the problem. Unhealthy and shortsighted solutions come from trying to fast forward through the discomfort of being stopped by something out of your control. But if you just sit and admire the problem, its true importance will become apparent, and an equally admirable solution will come to you.

Patience and humility are the greatest tools a problem solver can have. Being stuck gives you an excuse to bring them out, dust them off, and go to work. So if you’re stuck, give yourself some space to sit down and appreciate the true importance of the problem. In doing so you might find that a totally new solution finds its way into the picture.

We need that. We’ve been facing the same three questions, and trying the same three solutions, for as long as I can remember.

How do I motivate my members to recruit?

- Incentives are not a sustainable solution.

How can I bring the Greek community closer together?

- Holding a “Greek-Wide-BBQ” once a year will not reverse systemic issues between chapters.

How can we have a stronger brotherhood?

- Organizing another “Beer-Olympics” only inspires temporary brotherhood in the same way you bond with another drunk fan at a football game.

That’s not OK.

There are people in our industry that have come up with the solutions to your problems, years ago, and somehow they still haven’t taken hold. This makes me think that we need a new approach. The answer must come from within our membership rather than placed upon it. Over the next few blogs I’m going to continue to dig deeper into how we can bring out some of these answers. Not by giving you answers that already exist, but by provoking some thought and questioning as to why we do the things we do.