Anyone who is stuck will appreciate this story. I read a story of a man who was thrown into a well by his brothers because they hated his guts. The text says, “…they hated their brother so much that they would not speak to him in a friendly manner.”(1) This guy, let’s call him Joseph, had a couple of dreams that pointed in the direction of global leadership and influence, but his position in the family suggested none of it: he was the eleventh of 12 children.
In this story, Joseph’s brothers seized the opportunity of a visit to their workplace to attack him. The older siblings took care of the family business while the younger two helped at home. The initial plan was to murder him, but their eldest brother prevailed and they opted to confine him. Their plan worked and Joseph was stripped and locked up while they thought of their next line of action (Did I mention that the favoritism shown to Joseph by his father didn’t help the matter?) . The general idea was to get him out of their lives. Something had to give if they were going to get any of their father’s love and attention.
When I got to this part of the story, for some reason, I stopped and a question came to mind: What are the advantages of begin stuck in a rut? My first response to my silly question was, ‘Could there be an advantage to living a boring, monotonous life with no real advancements and achievements?’ I guess this blog confirms the answer to the question. Yes, there is.
Stuck in a rut.
I tried researching the idiom and I came up with the following: “…a boring lifestyle that never changes.”(2) A rut is “a fixed, usually boring routine.”(3) Many of us can attest to the one season of our lives that we have felt like we were in motion, but not advancing. The imagery that comes to mind is a car stuck on a muddy patch of the road. The tire wheels and turns, but the car doesn’t make any significant advancements. At times the engine is revving more than it would for a normal drive. The only achievement is mud splashing all over the place.
The story is sad, but I have good news for you: a rut is different from a grave. While a grave is closed on both ends and has no way out, a rut has open ends—there is surely a way out!
Now to my initial question, I think the time spent in a rut provides the following advantages:
APPRECIATION FOR POSITIVE ADVANCEMENTS: You never take motion for granted when you are stuck. No leader ever takes the easy times for granted when he or she has experienced a season of dryness and difficulty. Getting stuck increases your appreciation for progress.
RE-EVALUATION: Have you found yourself ever pausing a movie to either explain what just happened in a preceding scene or take-in a rather surprising twist in the tale? I have. The time spent in the rut is a time to ponder on how you got there in the first place. The incidence is not isolated. A series of decisions and choices led you straight to where you find yourself. This is a time to take account of the direction the little choices you make leads you in.
RE-STRATEGIZE: Albert Einstein once described insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”(4) The greatest wisdom of getting stuck is a shift in your mental position. If you get stuck, it usually means it’s time to re-think and re-plan how to, first and foremost, get out of the situation and also how to stay out of it. There are other ways of achieving your dreams. It’s time to explore them. Stop throwing mud around, step out the car, get your feet dirty, and think of how to get your car out. Stepping on the gas pedal has not worked, has it? It’s time for some fresh ideas.
IT MAKES YOU LOOK UP: In the original story, Joseph was thrown into the well and had only one option in that well: look up! Looking down meant gazing at the dry floors of the well. The sidewalls of the well provided no entertainment too. He had to look up…to GOD. Usually, we make God our last option, when all other things fail. It’s time to make God the first and only option. “And if, in the process, any of you does not know how to meet any particular problem he has only to ask God—who gives generously to all men without making them feel foolish or guilty—and he may be quite sure that the necessary wisdom will be given him.”(5)
EXPERIENCE: There is no true learning without an experience of some sort. When you get stuck, you never forget what the patch looked like before you drove into it. We learn more when we experience. A little difficulty is good for development for it is only in strain, stretch and stress that muscles are developed.
PASSION TO HELP OTHERS OUT: Imagine you are at a dinner table with friends, and you tasted some part of the 3-course meal that didn’t taste so good, all mischief aside, your first instinct would be to draw the attention of your friends, warning them. When we experience hardships and difficulty, we come out almost always equipped and passionate to ensure no one has to go through what we just did and even if they have to, we ensure they don’t lose as much as we did.
Finally, just as you need some sort of traction to get a car out of a rut, you need a good network of friends, partners, mentors and coaches to get out of the rut. Get some good traction.
In the end, Joseph is sold into slavery, goes to jail on a false accusation, but later becomes the Prime Minister of the largest economy in his time. You will break free of the rut. The most important question is this: Will you learn all there is to during your time stuck?
1. Genesis 37:4 (Good News Translation)
5. James 1:5 (J.B. Phillips New Testament)