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Five Questions to Get Unstuck

What’s keeping you stuck? Ruminating about a situation or problem only depletes energy, fuels anxiety, and undermines coping resources. Put ruminating in its place and shine a light on a path forward by considering five questions that can change everything:

1. Whose business is it? Yours? Someone else’s? Or God’s? Think of a situation that’s troublesome. Make a list of the things you can control; then make another list of the things that are beyond your control. As you consider what’s in your control, identify one or more actions you can take to improve the situation.

2. What’s another side you haven’t considered? When there’s conflict or disagreement, step out of your own shoes (viewpoint) for a moment and into the shoes of the other party. What values and concerns are shaping the other’s position? Understanding where the position comes from often aids in finding a workable path. You don't necessarily have to agree with it. Or perhaps you’re faced with an uncomfortable decision that seems like a foregone conclusion. Considering all sides of it can open possibilities not initially seen.

3. What’s the conversation you’re avoiding? Think of an annoying behavior or situation that you’ve been tolerating. You’re frustrated and resentful. Case in point: A supervisor has a staff member who is frequently late and always has an excuse. The supervisor has more than once communicated the impact on staff and morale but the offender persists. It’s time to man up, have a conversation about consequences and be ready to implement them.

4. Will it matter in five years? This one cuts straight to the heart of what’s most important. The pandemic caused my nephew and his fiancée to postpone their wedding from August ’20 to May ’21. They had to renegotiate a venue, find different accommodations for guests and plan for fewer attendees. Will it matter in five years? Of course not, what matters is their love and the joy they felt when they could finally exchange their vows. A 35-year old woman has a challenging 60-hour/week leadership role. She and her husband want to start a family. She gets an opportunity to take a very different position for slightly less money but more manageable hours. Will her decision matter in five years? Very much so.

5. How do I want to be remembered? Daily decisions and small gestures have an enormous impact. For the deeply respected CEO of a Rochester, NY hospital, success was not measured in the amount of money he made but in the number of lives he touched. He became terminally ill and was a patient in his own hospital. As he was discharged for the last time to die at home, many of the staff, from custodians to upper level management, gathered around to honor him as he was wheeled out. Why? He had taken the time to know and care about each one and their families.

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