Is getting stuck a bad thing?
In fact, it's good to be getting stuck in the right way. It is part of the growth.
Here are seven ways that you (or your employees) may get stuck. The first six kinds of getting stuck need to be fixed. The last kind of getting stuck is something that needs to be encouraged.
1. Stuck outside the field: You are stuck outside the playing field because something else (your own agenda) is holding you back. You are torn between your agenda and the agenda of the person who is paying you. When taken to an extreme, your "stuckness" is costing the company twice – first, because they are not getting the value for their money and second, it simply introduces an opportunity cost that can build up.
Example: Five years ago, you wanted to start a business. Your goal has not changed. You still want to start that new business. Ten years from now? Who knows – you may still be sticking to your goal.
2. Stuck at the door: You are at the door busy fiddling with the door. You know that the field is inside and you have to open the door to reach the field. In other words, you have starting trouble. You talk about getting in there and playing hard but you aren’t making the required effort to start.
Example: You hired a consultant who came and recommended a few changes to fine-tune the business. You had to do some homework before you embarked on the new journey. You are halfway through that homework and you get busy with other things. You don’t start that new journey because your homework is not complete. You can’t complete the homework because you are busy doing what you were doing. You are basically stuck at the door.
3. Stuck at the center: You are somewhere at the center and you have been there quite some time. You think center is safe and comfortable. Leaving the center means taking risk and you don’t like that. While that is a safe bet in the short-term, it backfires in the long run simply because the entire landscape changes every few years and what is at the center today may be no longer on the map.
Example: Things are going very well in your business. The trends are not. If you change what you are doing now, there is a dip in the revenue but you would have averted a long-term threat. Plus, you don’t want to admit it – it’s a lot of hard work to change. You think about the change almost everyday and continue what you are doing. One day...
4. Stuck in a fight: For whatever reason, you think that for you to win, others have to lose – this means you have to get stuck in a bloody fight every now and then. This is a case where the company loses twice – your productivity and the productivity of the person that you engaged in a fight.
Example: You are writing a book and you decide to get post an excerpt from a chapter on your blog. You get a comment that you don’t like and you start engaging with the person who commented to prove that you are right. Soon you are focused on the fight and you have forgotten about the book.
5. Stuck in the weeds: You are on the path to an edge but you got stuck in the weeds – those totally unrelated and un-necessary details. Sometimes it gets worse. You don’t even acknowledge that you are stuck in the weeds.
Example: You start some research work on a new business opportunity. That leads to a survey and one of the questions in the survey is related to competition. That leads to further analysis and deep dive into all of your competitors and their business. You get fascinated and worried both at the same time. You start following up on everything and anything that your competitors do. In the process, you start running behind on your own business. That leads to your competition running even further ahead of you. This leads again working hard to find out what else they are doing. You know where we are going with this...
6. Stuck at the Wrong Edges: Now you are away from the center and outside of your comfort zone. You are stuck because you are in the unfamiliar territory and you have to stretch yourself to get comfortable in the new territory. However, it's not of much use as you are stuck in the “wrong” edges. Even when you get out of your "stuck" state the company does not benefit much because you are in the wrong place.
Example: A wrong edge is just that – anything that you are doing new but is not leading you to a better place. It may be a wrong habit that you are acquiring or it may be a wrong networking group that you are getting introduced or it may simply be something you are super passionate about coming at the expense of risking what you are building already. The timing may just be off.
7. Stuck at the Right Edges: This is golden. You are away from the center. You have taken the risk and you are willing to be uncomfortable. You probably know that you don't have much competence here but you are willing to do whatever it is to acquire that competence and skills AND grow. This is where growth happens. You go to the edge and stretch. You tumble and fall but when you get up and go again, you are better than before.
Example: Your business is growing and your competitors are embracing social media in a big way. You are an introvert and you have trouble participating in social media of any kind. You are stuck. You are not going to give up. You get a lot of help from friends and experts and finally after a few months you are comfortable using social media. Your business continues to thrive. More importantly, you have grown by leaps and bounds.
The point is every time you stuck and get unstuck in the right edges, your growth accelerates.
Encourage yourself or your employees to get stuck at the right edges. Remember that staying safe to avoid risk is in fact taking a bigger risk.
Rajesh Setty is an entrepreneur, author and speaker based in Silicon Valley. You can follow him on his blog at rajeshsetty.com/blog or on Twitter at twitter.com/rajsetty. This article is an excerpt from his upcoming book codenamed “Smart, but stuck!”.