Han Solo was rescued, but your success is up to you

Being stuck can make happiness seem like science fiction.

The image of Han Solo frozen in carbonite in The Empire Strikes Back is iconic. It’s also represents the desperate grip of career and professional stuckness that can take hold in our pursuit of career success and life fulfillment.

Have you ever felt like Han Solo?

Confident. Aware that you are outstanding at what you do. Not one to suffer well unfounded flak tossed your way from others. Frozen!?!

Even when we are eager to find opportunity, when we are energized by the idea of performing well, and despite knowing that the urge to be or do more is not going away we are all prone to becoming utterly and thoroughly stuck.

The career equivalent of being frozen in carbonite is the inertia that sets in and holds us in place. Whether that’s bogged down in burn out, or uninspired due to a lack of challenge and growth. Whether we can’t shake that nagging uncertainty around effectiveness of our leadership, or we just feel misaligned with our peers or our customers.

Whatever the particular way we feel stuck, it’s a stone-cold fact that being stuck can make success and happiness seem like science fiction.

When we’re frozen it feels like we can’t even breathe. Actually moving forward and changing things seems no less than impossible. That’s when auto-pilot switches on. That’s when we disengage—subtly of course, because we still have to get something done—and there’s an undercurrent of impatience, frustration, even desperation about everything that is not happening. It’s like we resign ourselves to letting our desire for more, better, and our own version of saving the Galactic Empire just flame out.

When we’re frozen we wait to be thawed or rescued by some external source. We expect Google to reveal answers to questions about what we should do next. We eagerly read books looking for a neat matrix laying out the “good moves” against the “career limiters.” We talk to friends and colleagues about how we’re just waiting for the right opportunity to do something. And thus, nothing happens.

Thankfully, unlike Solo, in our frozen state, we can breathe, we can think, and we can act. (Phew! Lucky us!) We can access our faculties, skills, and abilities and we can consciously and deliberately thaw ourselves out. We can unstick ourselves. We just have to choose to do it.

Budging free from stuck-ness in all of its forms starts with a choice. That choice can be active or it can be passive.

What are the choices you’re making if you continue to:

  • Dance around a difficult conversation with a member of your team?
  • Avoid a definitive decision about your next career move?
  • Not address the burnout that keeps you from performing at your highest potential?
  • Put off the vacation that you promised your kids you’d take two spring breaks ago?  

The choice you make when you do nothing in all cases is a passive choice to keep things the way they are. It’s a choice to remain frozen.

With no one from the Rebel Alliance coming to your rescue, what will you choose?

Categories: Human Resources