A story is told of Floyd Collins who in February 1925 climbed into Sand Cove in search of fortune. Suddenly, his lantern failed. Crawling through the darkness, Collin’s foot hit a seven ton boulder. It fell on his leg, trapping him in the coffin-like narrows of a dark, subterranean straitjacket.
For days Collins was trapped 125 feet below the ground in an ice-cold space 8 inches high and 12 inches long.
In the meantime, his plight became a national sensation. As the rescue attempt wore on, some 50,000 tourists bought hot dogs, balloons, and soft drinks from vendors at the cave in Kentucky. But in the end, Floyd Collins died alone, in the icy darkness, crying out deliriously, “Get me out. Why don’t you take me out? Kiss me goodbye, I’m going.”
The tragic ending for Floyd Collins was the result of being trapped with no means of escape. While the circumstances are not as dire as Collins’, many people find themselves stuck in a rut in their places of employment with seemingly no way of escape.
Writing in Forbes, Susan Adams recently highlighted results of a Right Management survey that revealed 19 percent of workers in the U.S. and Canada said they were satisfied with their jobs. Another 16 percent said they were “somewhat” satisfied. But the rest, nearly two-thirds, said they were not happy at work.
Twenty-one percent said they are “somewhat unsatisfied” and 44 percent said they were “unsatisfied.” A Mercer survey revealed that between 28 percent and 56 percent of employees in 17 spots around the globe wanted to leave their jobs.
With survey results such as these there is a good chance that you or someone in your office is among the statistics of those who would bolt if given the chance. For reasons such as economic factors many choose to stay although their heart is just not into it.
So what is one to do when they find themselves stuck in a rut? There are many possibilities. Here are a few.
Come clean about your feelings. It’s only with an honest assessment of where you are and how you feel that you can begin to turn the tide of where you are and more importantly, where you want to go. Suppressing your feelings of anxiety, frustration with regard to your work only deepens the feelings of being stuck and diminishes your capacity to think of ways to overcome it.
Renew your purpose and passion. Use time this summer to re-charge your emotional batteries and gain some fresh perspective. No one is immune from the physical, mental, and emotional exhaustion that can disrupt your sense of purpose. Smart leaders understand the necessity to get away from it all and get recharged. Do it.
Become an agent of change. Identifying areas where constructive change could be beneficial could be just what the doctor ordered. When you feel stuck in a rut it can be the result of the mundane and tired old way of doing things. Shake things up. Look for new and more efficient ways of improving your systems. Invite fresh sets of eyes to look at your operation. To make things better you have to take the first steps. Change doesn’t happen by chance. Initiate it.
Work on your attitude. Zig Ziglar was right when he said, “Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude.” Many people are in ruts of their own making because their attitude is in a rut. Your attitude is a choice and it’s something you have to take command of every day. Your attitude is the lens by which you see everything around you. Keep it positive.
Plough through. Sometimes the only way to get out of your rut is to plough through it. Instead of looking at how bad you think things are around you try counting your blessings instead. Instead of thinking the grass is greener on the other side of the fence why not fertilize your own grass and make it greener? Tough times do not last but tough people do. Sometimes you just have to plough through.
When you are in a rut, be honest about where you are, rekindle your passion and purpose, change what you can – starting with your attitude, and plough though. Don’t allow the ruts of life and work to keep you down.
What do you say?
Doug Dickerson is a syndicated columnist. He writes a weekly column for this newspaper. To contact Doug Dickerson, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.