Are you stuck on the escalator?

Posted Friday, January 24th, 2014. Filed Under Voices of wisdom

I attended a two and a half day conference on career development. There were people from all over the world and people from all aspects of this area: academics and researchers, educators, social workers, coaches, people from employment centres, social services, employers, and trainers. I met some incredible people who I believe will assist me on my move to bring change to our world particularly in the area of our youth.

In one of the seminars I attended they showed a very powerful video clip with a strong message. The setting was a large business complex with many floors. It was empty except for two people, a man and a woman who were on their way to work. They each got onto the same escalator, one of many to take them up to their work. On the way up the escalator stops and the man and woman both are concerned. No one is around and the escalator is stopped – who is going to help them? The man starts to shout out for help saying that he and the woman are stuck and need to be rescued. The woman joins in. Of course from an observer point of view this is humourous as we all know that both the man and woman had a choice to just walk up the stopped escalator to get to the top and where they needed.

As they call for help – you can hear the echoes of their voices penetrating through the large empty space. Eventually a maintenance worker shows up and he tells them not to worry that he is there to help them. He has his tool box in one hand. He steps onto another escalator and then this one stops.

So what is the message??? Are we allowing ourselves to be stuck in life or do we choose to move through the concerns, issues, fears and uncertainty and ‘walk up the escalator’?

Some of us are stuck and we don’t know how to become unstuck. I believe that the first thing we must do is recognize that we are stuck and admit it. Being scared is okay. It is then important to find the ‘right’/best person to turn to for guidance and support. This may a parent, friend, guidance cousellor, coach or professional to deal with more mental health issues such as anxiety, depression and so forth.

In the same conference one of the keynote speakers was Jacques Demers, former coach for the Montreal Canadians. He has a very interesting story to tell. He was illiterate – could not read or write. He was told by his father that he was stupid and would not amount to anything. He proved him wrong – he became an excellent coach and brought the Montreal Canadians to a championship following a 0-2 deficit, he is an advocate for illiteracy and he was appointed to the Senate (the relevancy of the Senate is a whole other topic!!!). This man spoke from his heart and said it the way it was. I of course love that kind of speaker.

When his team faced that 0-2 deficit in the playoffs he recognizes how easy it would have been to get stuck and just give up. But that is not the way he coaches. He did not bereat his team, or yell at them. He is a leader who can inspire his followers to rise above. He is also one who does not accept finger pointing and blame of others. In this story he share that he had a defenceman who came to him and said that he could not do his job because of the other defenceman. BLAME. Jacques Demers has an open door policy to talk and listen. If you come to blame others for your lack of performance he does not respect that. He did listen and told that defenceman that he will be sitting in the press box to watch the game. The player did not understand. Jacques said you can come to me and talk but do not come to me and point blame on others. Two weeks later this player was traded. Why? He did not understand teamwork and more importantly he was unwilling to look in the mirror and accept his responsibility. Interstingly the other defenceman had a great game and out performed. What does that say??

To get back to being stuck/being down 0-2 in playoffs, Jacques Demers told his players to go out next game and win the first period that’s all he wants. By breaking down this into baby steps he was able to focus the players on what needed to happen in the immediate while letting go of the larger intention – getting to the playoffs and winning.

That year Montreal Canadians was one of only seven teams at that time to ever come back from a 0-2 deficit in the playoffs to win the Stanley Cup.

I love his message – baby steps. In order to get ourselves unstuck it can be too daunting to make big changes. By focussing on ‘winnning the first period’ so to speak, you can take the fear and uncertainty on.

I have had some life altering changes in my life in the last few weeks. I know that for me to embrace the uncertainty and move forward in my life I need to break it down into baby steps. Ultimately this will add up and when I look back on that journey I will be astounded at what I have accomplished.

As we near the end of January – when most people have broken their New Years resolutions – don’t allow yourself to become stuck. Take that big picture goal and break it into tiny steps. I don’t care if you take it to the miniscule.

Take some time this weekend and think about some of your larger intentions/goals and then decide what baby steps you can do right now. Find your support system: people who will encourage you and remind you how brave you are being and will accept you when you take a step backward and not judge you.

I want to wish everyone a wonderful weekend. For us freezing in the north… bundle up and drink a warm drink. This too shall pass.

All my love,


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