In the last year, many clients have asked me to partner with them to help get unstuck- one client phrasing it “I feel like I’m stuck in molasses, and my feet can’t get free to move!” Our discussion of change and transition often includes the revelation that the time between endings and beginnings in our lives includes a neutral zone and time of uncertainty and being in-between, as William Bridges has noted in his book, Transitions. This fertile void is often a time to look inward, reassess, let go, before beginning to explore and renew as energy, clarity, and focus resume.
It is refreshing to find a new resource that addresses this issue in new and unique ways: Timothy Butler’s Getting Unstuck: How Dead Ends Become New Paths, similarly refers to the “Black Sun” from Greek and Celtic mythology that is an image that can be visualized as tremendous energy radiating from a dense and dark center. The problem of course, is that we are afraid of the dark. We want to move in the sunshine, walk along familiar streets, and have experiences that give us pleasure. We want to feel that most of life can be planned and that we have a reasonable chance of avoiding pain. The idea of staying with things as they are, without a plan, of suspending our model of how things work, puts us at a frontier of unknowing, which is to say at a place that is “dark” to our previous conception of things, to our plan for ourselves and our notion of how things work. We avoid the dim frontier, and so we stay stuck.
Butler, in his work at Harvard Business School and in industry, has developed several useful exercises to unlock the deep intuition and ways of forming a future life vision. He offers these tools through the website: www.careerleader.com/gettingunstuck that include image gathering, writing, and the 100 Jobs Exercise with instructions on how to mine your responses for useful themes and tensions. Butler reminds us that living fully requires that we journey through Impasse-Letting Go-Shifting-Seeing Anew-Taking Action-Growing Again, and in this fall season we can see this playing out in nature.