When you’re feeling stuck, help someone else

September 24, 2012


Yesterday, I was the host, leader and lone attendee at a vigorous weekly planning meeting. “We” created a detailed plan for the workweek including project plans, activities, start and end times. Plenty of productivity plus built-in downtime. Sunday evening was relaxed and fun knowing that everything had its place in the schedule for the week ahead.

Then, suddenly, it was 7am Monday morning and things looked a lot different.

I knew the schedule said: Get up at 7 to do some reading/research before heading to the office at 9. But my body felt as if it were covered by one of those lead aprons wielded by the dental hygienist, complete with two tiny custom-designed aprons for my eyelids. Then the negotiations started: I’ll just take my downtime now instead of later in the day. Motion carried.

After finally rousing myself, I nearly fell asleep in my coffee cup before making it to the office 1½ hours later than planned. I couldn’t get going on anything. My thoughts were thick and viscous, like my head was filled with goo. I couldn’t figure out how to take step 1 on the things that sounded exciting yesterday. I was stuck.

The stuckness was descending toward pity-party when I received an email from a friend – a friend who has helped me get moving on many-a-work-project in the past.

“… I’d appreciate it if you’d give me a hand to move things along,” a line from his email read. His project was experiencing a bit of stuckness, too!

It was just what I needed. I thought: of course I will help you. I can’t figure out my own stuff but maybe I can contribute to yours. I felt connected and less alone knowing that I’m not the only one trying to push through some struggles today. And my mood got a boost from someone I respect asking me to help.

As I added my input on pieces of his project, my energy began to return. My focus shifted outward toward helping someone else and away from my inner goo.

The schedule called for me to write a blog post today and I was convinced that it was not going to happen. You would not have wanted to hear the tale of nothingness that would have sprung forth a couple of hours ago.

I’ve blogged before about the power of helping others as a means to get us out of our own heads at times when that space gets dark and murky. But I continue to be surprised and amazed at how well it works. (If I was still a corporate employee, I would have used the term “win-win” in here somewhere but, thankfully, that did not occur.)


Image: Luc De Leeuw

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2 Comments on “When you’re feeling stuck, help someone else”

  1. International Coaching News Says:

    When you help someone, it will not only make you feel good, but also the person you’re helping and most probably, the people around you just night follow. Thanks for a great post!


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