The Necessity of Accepting “Stuckness”

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Yesterday I had a very frustrating day – not one which is totally foreign to my experience but with a slightly new and different twist. After enjoying three days of a long holiday weekend, I had set aside most of the day to create/compose/write my presentation for the American Astronautical Society which I am delivering in a couple days at their Imagine 2009 Conference. The day was virtually “wasted”.

Despite my good intentions and a plethora of ideas and angles and insights, I accomplished very little, until…

Early evening I posted the following comment on my Face Book page: “Some days it just seems impossible to be as productive as I know I am capable of being – why do I get “stuck” like this?”

Literally within minutes I had the following responses from several trusted friends and colleagues, including my daughter.

“Sometimes you just have to allow yourself a break. That can be a very good thing. “

“If I knew, my friend, I would share the answer, gladly.”

“It’s called creative incubation. we all need it. 🙂 “

“Productive and ‘creative’ are different things. Perhaps by being productive you mean ‘efficient’. For being effective in what you do, if you are a creative person, you need periods like that. The worst you can do then is to try very hard.”

All of the above comments make sense to me intellectually. They were/are appreciated. But there is nothing that tries my patience more than believing that I SHOULD be able to produce right now, even though I am not. I become very self-critical and undermine my best intentions even more.

When it comes to pacing productivity, sometimes the most significant thing we can do or say is simply to acknowledge, “I’m stuck”. When I did that yesterday, everything changed within a very short span of time. I found myself in a new kind of “flow state” within minutes, though I did little or nothing different, other than state to my virtual friends what was obvious to me by the end of the day.

Sometimes THE most productive thing we can do is ease up on ourselves. I wonder how much creativity and innovation is lost because we fail to realize this in a timely way??

  • Mark Solien

    Aloha Steve,

    Nice change of pace in your blog offerings. I can add one more thing to your getting stuck and then unstuck list. Go for a run. Not necessarily a real long distance run but just enough to get into your rhythm and get your mind off the world. At least for me, all the ideas start to flow and i would often wish I took along a note pad.

    All the very best,

    Mark