Being Stuck or Achieving Breakthrough: The Choice Is Yours


04:35  Monique    And so, as you consider young professionals, what evidence can a professional point to that really informs them, that they’re in a place of being stuck?

04:45  Hamaria    There’s a lot of indicators that anyone can really tell that they’re stuck in a particular role. One major and pretty actually obviously, the simplest thing is they don’t like what they do. If you really don’t like to come to work every day and the work that you’re doing, drains you more so than energizes you, that’s a really good indicator that you are stuck in what you’re doing. Another thing you can think about is that you are doing things redundantly and it’s easy. So, if things come so easy to you that you’re no longer challenged and it’s no longer exciting or innovative, or you don’t really get to use your brain other than doing things the same way all the time, every day, it also is a good indicator that you’re stuck. And finally, one good way to show that, or really see that you’re stuck is that you’re not moving forward in your career, that what you are doing is no longer moving you forward.

One quote that I love from a book called The Power of Choice, “It talks about living life by design and not by default.” A lot of times, if you are just in a default method, that you are okay, you just have accepted that this is where I am and that you’re not really designing a new future or designing a new opportunity or really looking to see if there’s something else for you, that’s also another way to be able to design or to discover if you’re stuck, if you’re just living by default. 

06:10  Monique:     And so, the terrific point about people not moving forward. And in your experience or evidence of working with someone, how did you engage with them? How did you support them in moving it forward for themselves?

06:24  Hamaria    Sometimes people just need to know or to recognize, or even just a listening ear to say, “I’m stuck and I don’t know how to get out of it,” or just to say, “Wait, maybe I am stuck.” Really having to ask the questions for themselves, “Am I stuck, or have I let time pass?” And so, when working with individuals, once they’ve acknowledged that that’s where they are, then we can move forward. And that moving forward looks like whatever they want it to look like. It is making conversations or discovering what we would call informal conversations with people to expand their network. It’s talking to people within their network to really find out what else is out there, what else is available. It’s also doing a deep dive for them to understand, “You know what, I really want to do this,” or “This was a goal that I had as a kid,” or really dig deep to really find out where they want to be in the next few years. So, it really is a discovery method after they have realized that they are stuck. Now let’s do some discoveries. Let’s have some conversations. Let’s see where you can get or how you can get unstuck.

07:26  Monique    And so, it’s almost, I’m hearing a little bit of the chicken and the egg, which came first, right? Because do you find yourself arriving at a place of being stuck and then figuring out how to unhinge that, or do you work on the front end of discovering where it is that you’re going and create a trajectory that supports you getting there?

07:50  Hamaria    Absolutely. It can be either-or. And sometimes it may be one... Sometimes in your life, maybe the first ten years of your experience, you really plotted out where you want to go. But once you’ve gotten there, you’ve reached that pinnacle, then maybe you need to make an adjustment to then see where you want to go next. So, you can feel, be on a trajectory, and still get stuck because there are new technologies, there are new innovations, there are new things that may come about and you may want to make a change. You just may not know how to make that change. So, yeah, I love the analogy, the chicken or the egg. Sometimes you may be a chicken. Sometimes you might be the egg, but you have to be okay with that process to really get to what is important to you. And that’s the bottom line. What is it that you want your career to look like?

08:36  Monique    Well, okay. And let’s take that even further. So, in that question of what you want your career to look like, what are the micro pieces in that?

08:47  Hamaria:     So, some things that I like to share with my clients is to really think about, what have you always been good at? If I talked to my 5-year-old, 12-year-old, 15-year-old, 20-year-old, Hamaria, I’ve always been a talker and I’ve also always been a helper. So, you can think back in your own life and pull out what I like to call “theme”, the themes that have been very consistent in each person’s life. By pulling out those themes, usually is an indicator of what you’ve always been good at or what you’ve always had interests in. So, that really for me is how I like to start conversations with clients, by asking them like, “What is it that you used to do or used to be good at when you were a kid or in high school, or even in college?” and then starting those conversations with them as they discover how they put their own theme together or what their themes are in their own life. So then that can lead to the other things that they want to do within their career.

09:48  Monique    Yeah. And along those lines, something that has always stood out for me in working, supporting clients along that very line of discovery and what are the themes is how blind to the themes some individuals are. They’re blinders because it’s so natural for them that they don’t see it. Oh, doesn’t everybody do this? That’s no big deal. And that parallels to a conversation I have with clients in that whole discovery of their life purpose, which for the record, anyone listening, is a challenging exercise that may involve years of discovery. I think some people feel, “Oh, I must not have a life purpose. I couldn’t figure it out last weekend.” 

10:37  Hamaria    I agree with you. 

10:38  Monique:     It takes time. And look, there’s an opportunity. Why don’t you start from the reverse side? Talk about things that you know are of no interest and you know don’t give you energy and start weeding it out because of that self-discovery, I found it so challenging for individuals. So, thinking about, in particular, the high-achieving listeners to the Tuesdays with Coach Mo Podcast and in the workplace, oftentimes large organizations, and they’re in pursuit of fulfilling their executive ambitions, the boss plays a critical role. And how would you describe that ideal working relationship between, let’s say a young professional and the boss? What are some of the characteristics of that?

11:25  Hamaria:    I think that there’s no perfect way because there are going to be two people. Then they each have their own way of doing things. And I think the most important thing is for young professionals to know how they thrive in an environment. How do you work best? Are you an independent worker? Do you need to be in a group and a team effort? Do you need to be left alone? What is the best way that you work? Also, gaining or gathering information from your leader to find out what is the way they supervise and to meet somewhere in the middle, if possible, because what you want to make sure is they get the best out of you and you get the best out of them so that you have enough leadership to be led and move you forward. You also have whatever direction is necessary for you in order for you to flourish and to grow. So, you want to make sure that in conversations, I think that’s a wonderful conversation to have, even if you are in an interview. What is your leadership style? Or when you start a new job, asking your leaders, what’s your leadership style? And you know what your style is because you’ve done that work to really realize what it is that you like, or how you like that relationship to be. And that’s really key because then you both are going to be operating in excellence because you understand each other’s way of leadership. 

I would like to compare it to the five love languages. You want to find what that “love language”, what that language is, what their leadership language is so that you can be a good supervisee to the supervisor because you’re speaking their language and vice versa. You want to make sure that the language that they’re speaking, that you also understand it. So, you want them to understand your language and you want to understand them as you want them to understand you. I think that’s what’s most important because that is what’s going to help you to flourish and to grow. So, there is no magic niche to it. It just depends on what that person’s way, method, what they feel most comfortable with. And then that’s going to be helpful. And it can change over time because when you first start a new job, you may need more hands-on, more supervision. But once you get into the flow, you may not need it. But again, having those conversations with leadership to make sure that both languages are being received well, then I think it’s going to be a great success on both hands.

13:45  Monique    And I’d even like to say to listeners who are managers of people, one thing I’d really love to see more managers do is to reach out to their direct reports and ask that question directly of, how can I best support you? Just simply ask, how can I support you in being successful? because oftentimes it’s just thought of as the one-way street, like a subordinate is there to make their boss look good and fulfill their boss requests and vice versa. And so, I want more bosses to be asking that of their associates. Just ask clearly, what do you want and need from me for you to deliver the best version of yourself here on this team? 

14:31  Hamaria:    Absolutely. 

14:32  Monique:     So, from your experience or your knowledge base, what are some of those signs that the relationship with the boss has gone off the rails and is not really serving you well?

14:45  Hamaria    If there’s tension between the two of you, and as a supervisee, you’re not aware of it, or if you are, I think that is a good indicator. If there’s miscommunication where what you’re saying is not what they receive or what you intend is not being reciprocated, they’re not understanding what you are really trying to say. Also, I think an indicator, too, is that it’s a mismatch, meaning that when you are providing, presenting something that it’s not “good enough”. Those are good indicators that there may be some work to be done within the relationship to get you back on track if you’re off.

15:28  Monique    Yeah. So, tension, miscommunication. What was coming up for me as I heard you even say tension is assertiveness, which is a trained skill. Many people think, well, assertiveness, aggressiveness. No, they’re different things. And assertiveness, sometimes tension is good and then it can quickly go in the wrong direction also. And so, I like to say a healthy tension because sometimes, if you feel the team, the boss was really making a bad call. For whatever reason, at the end of the day, oftentimes it is the boss who gets to make the call. And it is your job as being a professional to at least ensure that the boss is making that decision with full information. And so, leaning in with some consideration for alternative views and having that conversation, that may be in line with assertiveness and respecting their rights and your rights as a professional. In terms of some tension, I believe it is good. What are your thoughts there?

16:31  Hamaria    Yeah. I don’t know if I’ll use the word tension because that can make a person feel uncomfortable, but I would say that it’s okay if your voice lands and there’s silent. You put your voice out there and people may take the time or need time to process. So, yeah, I agree that it’s necessary to search your thoughts or your ideas. But I also think that also to be aware, it’s not necessarily backlash, but be aware that people may not receive the information that you have to say with open arms and be okay with it, that people may have to process what’s your thoughts or your feelings or what you brought to the table. Then they have to process that in their own way. And we also don’t want to put our voice out there and then backtrack, because I know a lot of times people do that. They give their ideas and they say, “Oh, well...” that’s not the time to say that or they’ll add an excuse instead of just being and sitting in their own thoughts or sitting with the statements that they’ve made. So, I’d say if you do, if you are assertive and it does feel tensiony, make sure you don’t backtrack and be okay with whatever the uncomfortable feelings that may come about by expressing your thoughts.

17:51  Monique    Really nice. As I was listening to you say that the thought around... Oh, in terms of... I like to say we can split a communication, like a split hair. It can go in two directions. One is what it is you’re saying, the other is how you’re saying it. And in my experience, I often see many individuals not recognizing how they’re coming off, how it is, what it is that they’re saying. And so, that has the possibility to be a potential something to derail a relationship. It’s not so much what, it’s just how. It could be said in attacking my way or the highway type of way. And so, for professionals to really consider whether an organization provides it or they seek the support on their own and working with the communications, professional who will help them through that style and how to get across an opposing point of view that still keeps everyone engaged and leaning into the conversation as opposed to having everybody scattered to the outside because the style was so attacking. 

And so, I mentioned a tool of seeking the support of a communications expert along those lines of tools. What are some tools or ideas that you often suggest for young professionals who are feeling that they may be in a place of stuck or things aren’t really working for them? What is in your toolbox?

19:25  Hamaria    One of my favorite questions, if a professional is... I’ll first start with stuck in the relationship with their leadership. One of the questions that I always love to have professionals ask is ask leadership, how can I exceed your expectations? That way you have an understanding of what their expectations are and what greatness looks like to them so that you can then start mapping out based on what you’ve heard from them, what their response is. It also would be great if you’ve exceeded their expectation when it comes to your evaluation. You’ve given me what exceeds it, right? I’ve done it. I’ve exceeded it, right? So, you’ve been having some leeway. You have some conversations that you can then have with leadership because you have exceeded their expectations. 

Another thing that I like to think about is making sure that your head is not down and that you really are focusing on what’s happening above you and not just what’s happening within your line of business. So, what are the other leaders talking about? What are the other conversations? What is your CEO, what’s your executive director, what kind of conversations are these individuals having? What’s important to them? So that as you continue to have conversations and you do your networking and you’re involved, which you get involved with other things within your organization, you can have those conversations and know what’s happening and know what’s going on. So, it was just a few things that I think if we are very mindful that it can help us promote ourselves and to move forward in our careers and not just be okay with where we are today right now at this moment.

21:05  Monique    And speaking of where we are at this moment and looking ahead, what is your perspective or advice you have for professionals on creating that longer-range plan? Because I hear, which is a terrific thought of trying to hear what’s being talked about at the most senior levels of an organization. Gather some insights, some perspective, have a point of view, ask questions, be curious, which I think is really smart in that, because I like to call it as you’re preparing yourself for that future opportunity you want when you see yourself actually at the table having those conversations. And so, looking ahead, how young professionals create that long-term view? Because I often find in particular, those who are 25 to 30, it’s all about doing a really good job with where they are right now, wanting to just knock it out the park for today. And it’s like they just leave it to chance on what’s out ahead. What’s your thought there?

22:12  Hamaria    Again, living life by design and not by default, designing what you want, even if it is... This is another thing. You can have more than one career. So, it doesn’t mean that you have to go in and be in a career for 30 years to get a watch and retire. Long gone are those days. So, if you like multiple different things, my suggestion is for you to be always in discovery of what’s going on in those different things. So, if you are really like, “Well, I’m interested in IT, but I’m also interested in learning and development, but I’m also interested in logistics,” well then do some exploration in each one of those areas. So, today you may be in IT, but it does not mean that later on that you won’t make a career change into logistics. 

So, what I always like to share with individuals, especially young professionals, don’t lock yourself into a career thinking it’s going to be your forever career. Be okay with you being complex, be okay with you having multiple things that you were interested in, and don’t shut down your interests because you’re not doing it right now. So, think about what you are doing, what do you like, but are there some other areas that you may want to be in that could help you? What are you doing now that could help you to make this transition if you do decide to do something else in your career? So, that’s what I always like to share. Be okay with what you’re doing, but don’t shut and close doors and opportunities because it’s not what you’re doing today. If someone reaches out to you on LinkedIn, have a conversation. If one of your friends is telling you about an opportunity, be open to it. So, don’t close yourself off to anything. Be open to those conversations. Be open to doing something different and something new.

23:56  Monique    You mentioned exploration and LinkedIn, what are some ways that individuals can go about doing that exploration? Of course, there’s always Google.

25:23  Hamaria    Right. So, what I would always like to share is that what titles interest you? And then find those people on LinkedIn. Literally, there are 400 million people plus on LinkedIn, which is a whole lot of different careers. So, if you’re like, “Well, I want to work at Facebook,” for example. So, you can go onto LinkedIn and you can go to the Facebook page on LinkedIn and you can look to see the different kinds of roles because it’ll tell you there are a number of people that work at Facebook. So, if you wanted to do that, great. So, then you can click on that and see all the people that are on LinkedIn that work at Facebook. Say that you want to work in talent development and you like the company Facebook, well then just go and put in Facebook. And in quotation marks on LinkedIn, put in talent development. What is that going to do? That is going to then pull up every person that has talent development that works at Facebook, that’s on LinkedIn. 

So, there are ways for you to utilize LinkedIn for your own benefit. And I would just say, learn LinkedIn. Take some LinkedIn learning classes so you can learn all of the conduct nuances that will help you to really do some good searches. But find people that are in an industry that you’re interested in and start having those, what we call informal conversations or exploratory conversations to really discover if what you think you like about it is true. What they would do in that role is actually what they do. So, you want to ask questions like, tell me about your career pathway. What is it that you like about your job? What is it that you don’t like about your job? So, talk to people and build those relationships so that if you do decide again to get into that new field, you’re not starting from scratch because you’ve already built and established relationships with individuals that are in that career pathway already.

27:12  Monique    And that’s where I would say, being proactive versus waiting until you get out of a role, and then it’s all about just getting into a job. And that energy that comes along with that resonates with those who you’re reaching out to for informational interviews, as opposed to starting it now. I think when you are at the peak when you are enjoying and when you are loving what it is you’re doing, now is the time to have those conversations because there’s no timeframe on when a move may be possible for you. And so, doing that exploration, having those conversations. 

And I hear oftentimes, people don’t want to reach out to someone they don’t know and have a conversation. Well, as you mentioned, if you see that there is a sea of folks who are working at Facebook, chances are one or two are going to take the time to have a conversation with you. And so, be prepared. More people will say no. They’ve got competing priorities. Time is of the essence, what have you. They just don’t have time. It’s not about you. Do not take it personally if they’re not available, just it’s not now. And so, work to have those conversations and being deliberate in that. What are the consequences by just... and look, they may be stuck. Their job may not be at risk, so they have employment. But what are some of the consequences of truly staying in that place for too long?

28:38  Hamaria    A lot of times, if you’re stuck in your career more likely than not, it’s going to start impacting your everyday life. It’s going to spill over to your personal life because if people are unhappy and if they are feeling they have this never-ending feeling of stuckness, it impacts our psyche. It impacts who we are. So, one thing why I think it’s so important, I would say to get unstuck is because you don’t want it to spill over to your relationships. You don’t want it to spill over into your work habits. You don’t want it to spill over where you are almost feeling like you’re tormenting yourself because you don’t know where to go or what to do next. One example that I like to use is that you’re at a green light, but you’re stopped. So, you can go, but you’re stopped. And so, it almost is paralyzing when you’re stuck too long where you don’t feel like you can go anywhere because you don’t see the right way to go. And we don’t want in… no coach, no person wants to see anyone in that predicament. So, what I would always say is you got to figure out how to get yourself moving, how to move forward because it has always been a difficult position to be in and it does again impact your everyday life.

30:05  Monique    Yeah. So many find that pursuit of a new job is just such a daunting task that they just choose to stay stuck because of not wanting to be out there on a job search. And I like to say, well, then create a situation where you never look for a job, which means continue to nurture your network. As you were saying, continue to have informal conversations. Do your continuous exploratory, looking out ahead and being proactive, and that opportunities will emerge. And it is an ongoing thing, to find yourself. And once you get to a certain point in life, in particular, if you have an expanded family or you now have a mortgage and this, that, and the other, people are feeling like, “Ugh, I can’t make a change. I’ve got to stay in this job.” That’s horrible. And as you pointed out, that’s going to spill over in addition to that personal, everyday life. And what’s the likelihood that you are going to make some costly mistakes in your current job. And then you’re going to be invited to leave because of the mistakes that are being made. So, I tell you, I just so appreciate you taking the time to connect with me here on Tuesdays with Coach Mo Podcast. What final thoughts do you have for our listeners that will be helpful and meaningful for them to get unstuck and get out of that rut, other than following all of your fabulous videos?

31:36  Hamaria    I would say the main thing about getting unstuck is, one, get unstuck, get out of the mud, get out of that place. But I guess my parting words would be, if you have not been able to do it yourself, it’s okay to ask for help or to get help or to get a coach to help you through the process because truth be told, it’s probably the person that you need the most because they’ve done that stuff too. We’ve been there, done that, and we’d gotten on set like we are on the roll. So, it’s important to get some help, to get people that can help you in these areas, especially if you don’t really know where to go. I mean, that’s one of the most important things that I talk to my clients about is that if you don’t know where to go, then talk to some people about it so that you don’t make the wrong step.  And I have to use a quote from one of my favorite movies Frozen. You want to make the best next step. You want that next step that you make to be the best one that it can be. It doesn’t have to be a perfect step, but you want it to be the best. So, get to thinking, get some internal thoughts going on, get some assistance if you need to, but you want to make sure that you take the next best steps.

32:44  Monique:     Love it. Thank you so much.