You Unstuck: The New Rules of Risk-Taking at Work and in Life (Book Excerpt 1)

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Published on August 24, 2009

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You Unstuck: The New Rules of Risk-Taking at Work and in Life (Book Excerpt 1)

ARE YOU STUCK OR SATISFIED WITH YOUR LIFE?

Despite our intelligence, talent and best intentions, many of us get stuck in self-made ruts and have no idea how to extricate ourselves. Some of you are probably still trying to convince that yourself that you’re not really stuck. After all, you’ve got a good job, a great family, yet you know there’s something missing. You’re just experiencing a minor down period, a slight erosion of confidence, or maybe some vague stress symptoms. Maybe you’ve been telling yourself that “it’s not that bad,” or that you’ll be able to change your life when the kids are grown or you have more time or money.

YOU UNSTUCK BY LIBBY GILL Excerpt #9 ARE YOU STUCK OR SATISFIED WITH YOUR LIFE? Despite our intelligence, talent and best intentions, many of us get stuck in self-made ruts and have no idea how to extricate ourselves. Some of you are probably still trying to convince that yourself that you’re not really stuck. After all, you’ve got a good job, a great family, yet you know there’s something missing. You’re just experiencing a minor down period, a slight erosion of confidence, or maybe some vague stress symptoms. Maybe you’ve been telling yourself that “it’s not that bad,” or that you’ll be able to change your life when the kids are grown or you have more time or money. On the other hand, maybe you know all too well what it’s like to be stuck. You may be stuck in a dead-end job, an unhealthy lifestyle, a career for which you feel no passion, a financial mess, or a life without love. But why should you wait to live your vision of excellence? Why continue to sit on the sidelines and watch other people experiencing great joy, passion and purpose? In other words, why stay stuck? At its simplest, the answer is fear. More specifically, it’s the fear of taking risks, what I call Riskophobia. In coming chapters, we’ll be identifying Riskophobic tendencies specific to you and exploring methods for overcoming your fears of risk- taking. Almost everyone has the capacity for self-improvement. In fact, most people have a pretty good idea of what they want to improve by the time I come into contact with them. But they’ll do almost anything to avoid what they perceive as the nearly impossible task of facing fear, overcoming resistance and trying new behaviors.

Often the hardest part is simply figuring out where to start. Most of us have bought into our limiting assumptions for so long that we’ve built a whole mythology to support our erroneous conclusions. So, let’s get assumptions and emotions out of the equation for a while by being as objective as possible about what’s actually working and what’s not working in your life. That will show us where to begin in getting you unstuck. RISK-TAKER’S TOOL: Success & Satisfaction Self-Assessment Following is a self-assessment tool that I developed and have since used with thousands of people to help them determine success and satisfaction levels in ten key areas of work and life. By assigning scores to specific areas, you can begin to see where you’re least satisfied in your life and may want to focus first. Below is an assessment grid that was completed by a sales manager named Jerry at a leadership conference where I was a presenter. His assessment gives you a good example of how a successful, albeit stuck, executive rated his life. As you tackle the test, don’t be surprised if some of your ratings are pretty low (that’s the stuck part), though most people find they have a mix of both high and low scores. You might even be pleasantly surprised to realize that you’ve got a lot more going for you than you thought. Only once in all the years that I’ve used this and similar assessments, did anyone get a score of all 10’s, that is, perfect in every area of life. Boy, you should have seen how quickly the crowd turned on that phony. If it hadn’t been a very polite group of financial services professionals, I might have had a mob scene on my hands!

Okay, let’s get started. Take a look at the grid with the ten boxes. Each box is labeled to represent a major area of your personal or professional life. Think about each section and, as objectively and honestly as you can, rate your satisfaction level in each area on a 1-10 scale, 1 being least satisfied, 10 being most satisfied. If a category isn’t especially meaningful to you, factor that into your score. For example, if you’re single and happy about it, there’s no need to give yourself a low rating on Significant Other. You’re not scoring yourself on whether or not you have a significant other, just if you’re satisfied with what you do have. Next, write your rating in each square. Then, underneath the grid, list each area and its corresponding score, ranking them from lowest to highest number. Assigning self-determined ratings can be very eye-opening because after you’ve given yourself a 2 out of a possible 10 on Health, it’s pretty hard to pretend that everything is okay with your self-care. Conversely, even though you may grouse about your over-involved parents and sibling, when you give Family a 9, it’s obvious that this part of your life is very satisfying for you. As I mentioned, you’ll see Jerry’s scores and rankings below. If you want a blank copy of this assessment, just recreate it or download a PDF of this exercise from the Tools section of www.LibbyGill.com. Success & Satisfaction Self-Assessment

Career Finances Health & Relationships Relationships Self-Care With Family With Friends 2 7.5 7 6 8 Significant Purpose or Personal Recreation & Home, Office Other Spirituality Growth Fun Living Space 3 6 7 8 3 1. Career – worried about sales slowdown 2 2. Significant Other – no time to date 3 3. Living Space – need to finish my remodel 3 4. Family – haven’t seen much of them lately 6 5. Purpose – too focused on work to think big picture 6 6. Personal Growth – could start reading more 7 7. Health & Self-Care – I’m in pretty good shape 7 8. Finances – Pretty satisfied with where I am for now 7.5 9. Fun & Recreation – enjoy sports & movies 8 10. Relationships with Friends – have a great group of friends 8

If you’re like most people, you probably have some areas of your life that are working quite well and other areas that need some attention, maybe even urgently. If you feel that the low ratings you gave yourself are indications of deeper problems than the need to get unstuck, you may want to consider some professional help. Ask yourself if you, or others, have noticed a change in your behavior. Have friends, family members or colleagues suggested that you see a doctor or therapist? If so, you may want to schedule some time to visit an internist, general practitioner, pastoral counselor or psychotherapist. Request that a trusted family member or friend make the appointment and possibly even accompany you for emotional support. If you’re ready to tackle the YOU UNSTUCK process on your own - with me as your guide - this assessment will give you a great starting point. Take a look at the low ratings you gave yourself. Any surprises there? Were you shocked to see some 1’s and 2’s on your list, or maybe even a zero? Not to worry, that’s actually good news and here’s why – now you have a starting point. As you become adept at getting yourself unstuck in your first areas of focus, you’ll see how easy it is to transfer your newfound unsticking skills into different areas of your life. Keep in mind, it’s all about incremental stages, so if you gave yourself 3 on Finances because you’re carrying debt and not doing anything about it, you need to think of some steps that would take that 3 to a 4, not 3 all the way to 10. That’ll come later but, for now, it’s one step at a time. Like most self-assessors, Jerry had a mix of high and low numbered responses. His scores ranged from a 2 in Career at the bottom end of the scale to a 10 on Friendship at the top. His initial focus, and what prompted him to seek coaching was his work

slowdown, but once he began to turn that around, he was able to add “Start Dating” and “Finish My House” to the list of things he wanted to accomplish. Although we often tend to think of our challenges as all-absorbing, that’s rarely the case. When you’re able to chunk it down – that is, break action steps into the tiniest imaginable pieces – you can tackle one baby step at a time. In Jerry’s case, that meant calling a woman he’d intended to ask out for an after-work drink. Until now, he’d seen his desire to start dating as a huge goal, but suddenly he saw that it was one phone call, one date and then he’d take it from there. It wasn’t as though he had to drop everything and figure out a strategy for meeting the woman of his dreams, settle down, get married and have a family. It was just a cocktail date. He made the call, which immediately took his Significant Other score from 3 to 4. It was all much less effort and pain than he’d built up in his mind, as it will be for you. Just remember to chunk it down!

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