Do THIS When You Get Stuck

Listen to an audio version of this post here:

I have to be honest with you. When my recent launch of the mentoring group for women didn’t meet my expectations, I felt paralyzed. I seemed fine on the outside but I was unable to lift a finger to help myself.

I should have been able to move on. I could have been promoting my online course and my Positive Psychology practice. I could get in front of crowds to talk about the book I wrote for the family of the future. But I felt like I was stuck in a spider web.

photo credit:  Zohre Nemati/Unsplash

photo credit: Zohre Nemati/Unsplash

I’ve been struggling. This is only the third time I’ve posted to my blog in over a month.

Last month, when my expectations for success hit reality, I flashed back to the first time I put my ego on the line:

In 2015, I pitched School for Superheroes to a national search awarding millions of dollars to build the high school of the future.

I didn’t just want to make a new kind of high school.

I felt an enormous need to disrupt the current model of education. I couldn’t sit still any longer. Working in schools, I’ve had to bear witness to how poorly we treat students.

We can’t afford to keep sorting kids into educational “have’s” or “have-not’s”. We are wasting potential that can solve global problems in the future. We need to empower every student. 

Starting from scratch, School for Superheroes threw out the need for a school building, for curriculum, and even for teachers. I designed a learning environment where adults get out of the kids’ way (I know! Crazy, right?).

The groundbreaking research in Positive Psychology gave me an easy way to identify and amplify each student’s superpowers. Allowing students to follow their passions puts curiosity front and center, where it belongs. School for Superheroes is built to support students to drive their own curriculum. I also designed a way for the school team to pivot with the student’s learning process as it naturally evolves. This way we all can encourage creativity and collaboration instead of stifling it.

My team helped me design a give-and-take relationship between each student and the larger community. In this model, the community invests in students’ discoveries AND the learning process benefits the larger community.

Writing this quick summary of my school concept got me fired up all over again.

photo credit:  Sandy Miller/Unsplash

photo credit: Sandy Miller/Unsplash

Back from my flashback, I start to wiggle free of my spider web. I wonder, “maybe I just didn’t get the attention of the right people.” Maybe School for Superheroes could succeed if I go back and try harder this time.

Then I pause to remember and get stuck again.

I remember why I stepped away. After being eliminated from the national contest, I saw the long road ahead of me. Building School for Superheroes was going to be a steep uphill climb. It was like I got kicked off the highway and had to take the back roads. My GPS went from “arriving in 20 minutes” to ETA of April 2043.

If I chose to persist, School for Superheroes would consume years of my time and energy. It would keep me from pursuing other dreams. My friend Christa delivered the final blow, warning me, “this is a lifetime project.”

Here I sit after a few weeks of feeling paralyzed, recalling the ups and downs from my School for Superheroes story. Since 2015, there have been more successes and knock-downs.

I can see the difference in myself from then to now.

I have been able to expand my stamina to be vulnerable and to take risks. My resilience has grown stronger to taking hits like these.

Most importantly, I have learned what to do when I get stuck. I start wiggling around, slowly at first, methodically. There is only one way to get unstuck. Persistent movement frees me from the death grip that the spider webs have on me.

I harness my superpowers of creativity, kindness, and gratitude. This is the healthiest way I found to start moving: create a small, daily routine.

For now, I work my routine, get back to the daily practice of writing and self-care (yoga, meditating). I dare to post what I’m learning in public. I reconnect with my tribe.

Thanks for reading!

P.S. If you want my simple recipe for how to harness your superpowers, just click here.

I boiled-down the research on habit-building and superpowers, that you don’t have time to read, into a workbook and a series of short videos.

If you have read this far, high-five yourself. You earned yourself a bonus! Click here to email me for a coupon code to take over 50% off the price of the online course.


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Robert Zeitlin