How to find your own solutions when you’re stuck

There comes a time when every leader is stuck in a situation that requires decisions and solutions that aren’t forthcoming. Not all decisions are yours to make, but when they are and you’re stuck, take advice from others with caution. Even when there may be people around you who have more experience, skill, or wisdom than you do, it’s best not to jump too quickly into action with the advice they give.

Nobody knows you, your values, your business, the situations, or the people you deal with daily better than you do; you are perfectly suited to come to your own answers. The decision to take the right fork or the left fork in the road should be made thoughtfully. Advice from others can provide fodder for considering your solutions rather than being used to take quick (and potentially disastrous) action.

Talk to others about your dilemma, but in those conversations, consider the advice they give you lightly, because it might not be the right thing to do for your particular circumstances. There are some ways to come to your own solutions that perfectly suit you:

Take your time: Most of the really big decisions you have to make can simmer while you figure out the best course of action. Let others who might be waiting know that you will take some time in order to find the best solution. Some things can’t wait, but many can, so have patience as your mind works through the answers that work best for you.

Do your research: You just can’t replace good old-fashioned detective work. Go ahead and read, Google, and ask others what they think about your situation (this is where you may hear advice even if you didn’t ask for it). You’ll know when you have enough information. Keep your mind open as you consider your options.

Find someone to listen: Do you have someone in your life who is a good listener? It might help to simply talk out a sticky situation. Ask them to listen and ask you questions but not to provide solutions, and see how that might help you along the road to becoming clear on the issue and possibly even finding some ways to begin to deal with it.

Intentionally reflect: Sure, you may have solutions swirling in your head as you go about your busy day. Wouldn’t it be helpful to block out some time without interruptions to consider your responses more thoughtfully? When you intentionally reflect, you can gain clarity. Begin your reflection with questions to think through your answers. Some examples:

  • What is the real issue with this situation?
  • What will it look like when it’s solved?
  • What are the barriers to solving it?
  • What’s a first step I can take toward solving this?
  • Who can help?

You may be surprised to discover that you know more than you thought about how to find your own solutions when you use one or more the methods above.

P.S. It hasn’t escaped me that I just gave you advice. Please take it lightly.


I am a former executive in a Fortune 100 company. I have owned and operated an executive coaching firm since 2003 called Aspire Collaborative Services LLC. We partner with great leaders to help them become even greater at developing, improving, and sustaining relationships with the people who are essential to their success. This blog is for leaders and those who help them to be more intentional about relationships at work. My top personal values include respect for others, kindness, compassion, collaboration and gratitude. I work very hard at practicing my values daily and when I don’t succeed, I practice some more. I am married with two wonderful daughters and two spoiled pugs.