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How to switch your thinking to get unstuck


I met with a leader a few days ago who wanted to chat to me because she felt stuck.

I was happy to do so because we all get stuck in our thinking from time to time.

But this begs the question:

What do we mean by stuck?

It means that we are going around in circles and we cannot see a way forward.

We tend to go over the same ground again and again.

For example,

We can get stuck for a new idea.

Or stuck in a role or career.

Or our individual and team performance, results, progress or growth can get stuck.

It happens to us all.

But why?

Why do we get stuck?

It’s primarily because we get stuck in one way of thinking about something.

Particularly if this has worked in the past.

This makes perfect sense.

Over time this way of thinking becomes habitual, our patterns become more engrained and rigid.

But when the market, customers, technology and competitors change we can get caught short.

We get stuck.

And it can be a frustrating, limiting and paralysing place.

I suggested to her that what she was outlining to me sounded like a win for her but a loss for a colleague (in this case of prestige and standing).

What might a win – win look like I asked (i.e. Switch the Outcome).

Suddenly she felt more energised and her eyes lit up.

Of course.

‘I could immediately do this as she outlined some specific actions she could take the next day.

Why didn’t I see this before she asked herself?

But that was the point.

She was stuck.

She could only see the situation in one way.

An entrenched way.

As you can see from this example, the switch to another thinking pattern was not a big leap (i.e. from win-lose to win -win).

It was a small step but it made a big difference.

The goal is to get unstuck and. as a result, create a new range of insights, ideas, actions and opportunities.

The good news is that there is a way to get unstuck.


By using what I call a Switch.  

This is a deliberate, proactive leap over to another (often not considered) thinking pattern.

And to make it easier to switch your thinking I have developed 6 Switches.

The 6 Switches are: 

1. Switch Perspective e.g. how might a client look at this situation?

2. Switch the Problem e.g. Keep the essence of the problem the same but describe it using emotional language

3. Switch the Outcome e.g. what is impossible rather than what is possible

4. Switch the Focus e.g. What don’t we know rather than what do we know.

5. Switch the Questions e.g. what is a naïve question rather than an expert question

6. Switch the Rules e.g. what happens when we overturn a key assumption?

When I outlined these 6 switches to the leader over coffee she was surprised how simple, easy and practical they were.

Dr Ken Hudson

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