You Are Stuck, but Who Could Help

Let’s say you got stuck on a new problem, that is new and unique to you, and you also do not know who could help you with this. For example, this could happen if you are a people manager, and you are trying to address a concern related to a person in your team. You may not know where to start, you may not be able to share all the details with others, and even though you feel stuck you might feel like your only option would be to go through alone. It is possible to address some problems in life by powering through them, but they are hardly ever the best solutions. At this point, you know that you need help, but you do not know who to ask.

There is a good solution with only 2 steps. First, build a trusted network of people and be in contact with those folks on some regular cadence. It does not have to be frequent with each one of them, but you would like to have a few of those conversations in a month. Second, when you meet with them, discuss one of your recent issues with them in a brainstorming mode, generate ideas together, and learn from their experiences. This is better than discussing whatever happened since you last saw them (which could be months ago) in general terms. You will be discussing something fresh in your mind in more specific terms. And you will be able to apply their suggestions right now instead of saving them for a future re-occurrence.

Being stuck in whatever you are doing is inevitable if you are working on tough problems. Eventually, you will run into a problem that requires more thought. When that happens, you do not want to also be stuck in finding who could help you. You can resolve the who question once and for all by building your network ahead of time. And everyone will benefit if you can use your network to get help on your current and ongoing questions. Those questions will be more specific, fresh, and actionable. You and your mentors could brainstorm together and learn from each other.

Hope this will help you next time you get stuck.

Note: If you are stuck on a very specific question, there is no sensitivity in discussing it with others, and you know who the experts are, you can go to those people and ask your questions now. This suggestion here is intended for cases when you do not know who could help you.