You Unstuck

At some point, we all become stuck. Maybe it’s a job that is comfortable, but no longer challenging. Maybe you’re in a relationship that is going nowhere. Or maybe you’ve been out of the workforce so long, your confidence is at an all-time low and you fear further rejection could derail you completely. Stuck happens.

It’s been noted that people who generally stay “unstuck” share certain characteristics. They tend to have a positive outlook on life, a way of reacting to setbacks that helps them regroup and keep going no matter what. It doesn’t mean that they never stumble momentarily or face hardships or disappointment. Rather, it’s that they have discovered ways to pick themselves up and tread on regardless.

Neither are they afraid of making mistakes. If one approach doesn’t work, they simply try another. As Winston Churchill famously noted: “Success consists of going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm.” Libby Gill (LG), author of “You Unstuck,” understands this precept well. In her delightful book, she outlines some of the traps we all fall prey to, and offers strategies for staying out of the woods.

AM: Has perfectionism ever gotten in the way of you doing your job? LG: I think it’s far more important to embrace imperfection than to attempt to be perfect. While I appreciate perfection in a tax preparer or plastic surgeon, there’s rarely anything that a normal professional has to do that requires absolute perfection. Instead, I live by the 80% rule. If I’m 80% or more of the way there on a project, plan or decision, I simply move forward and have faith that the rest will sort itself out along the way.

AM: Can you describe a time in your life you felt stuck? LG: I was working as head of corporate PR for Universal’s television group, when I realized that I had worked really hard to get where I didn’t want to be. When I was offered a promotion that would have taken me one more step up the ladder I no longer wanted to climb, I had a choice to make. That choice became very clear when, as part of the anticipated job change, I had a headshot taken that would have been released along with an announcement about my new position. Somehow, the photo proof ended up on my desk en route from the photographer to the retoucher. I took one look at all the notes written on my face in red grease pencil – “fix the crow’s feet,” “brush out the worry lines,” “brighten the red eyes,” “get rid of the gray hair” – and I turned down the job. It was like jumping off a ledge and praying there was a net down below somewhere. I leaped and never looked back!

AM: What helps you stay motivated for the long haul? LG: The mere idea of living in mediocrity keeps me motivated to move toward success. I want to live a life of excellence – and I’m willing to work at it – even if I can only manage to make little incremental improvements each day. Having children also gives me the inspiration to create something lasting and meaningful, if not for the entire world, at least for my family.

AM: What are some tips you might recommend to your clients in terms of starting over? LG: The best tip I can give anyone who feels stuck is to clarify their vision of success, simplify the most direct route to realizing that vision, and execute their action plan against measurable milestones. I cover the CSE model in my book “You Unstuck,” which of course, you should read as soon as humanly possible!

AM. What is the best piece of advice you have ever received? LG: The best piece of advice I ever received was actually a sort of backhand compliment. Early in my Hollywood studio career, a senior-level female entertainment executive doomed me to failure for being “too nice for the business.” That prediction seemed so inherently wrong, I vowed not to lose my humanity no matter how stressful, demanding or cynical my colleagues were. I hope I’ll always be nice and, if I’m not, that honest people will remind me how important civility is in today’s world.

An entertainment industry veteran, Libby Gill spent fifteen years heading public relations and corporate communications at Universal Studios, Sony Pictures Entertainment and Turner Broadcasting. She was also the branding brain behind the launch of the Dr. Phil Show. Libby is now an internationally respected executive coach, speaker and bestselling author. She has shared her success strategies on the Today Show, The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch, CNN, NPR, Oprah & Friends Radio Network, Fox News, CBS Early Show, and in Time Magazine, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, O Magazine, Good Housekeeping, Self and many more.