How being stuck might be the best thing that ever happened to you. – Alex Falk
Being a student at Knowmads has a lot to do with unlearning: unlearning patterns and
behaviors that we picked up from our upbringing and schooling. We learned that knowing
something is a good thing, and not knowing something is bad. If we didn’t know the answer
to a question it meant that we didn’t do our homework or we didn’t bother to understand,
and so we got reprimanded for it. This might be a good strategy if your main goal is to teach
obedience and discipline, but it won’t help to create the kind of free thinkers and problem
solvers that we value in today’s society.
At Knowmads, we place great value on not knowing; being stuck and even failing, because
we know that this is where real learning takes place. When we feel stuck and it is allowed to
feel that way, there is space for new thinking. True learning seldom comes from memorizing
theoretical texts, but from trying things out, not being afraid to fail, prototyping-evaluating-
During my years of coaching Knowmads, this is one of the biggest challenges the students
face. Many are not comfortable with uncertainty, insecurity or failure because they feel it
reflects poorly on them as people. We work to encourage these states and show them that
this is not the case. Wonderful things can happen from being stuck!
How being stuck might be the best thing that ever happened to you.
Feeling stuck can be one of the most frustrating states I can think of. Usually my mind gets
stuck when trying to do too many things at once, when making a decision that I have
overestimated the importance of, or when I feel I have completely run out of options and I
am a victim of my circumstances.
I consider being stuck as the mental representation of the statement ‘I don’t know’ (how to
act, what to do, which to choose), and there is nothing inherently wrong with not knowing.
Yet in the society where I and many others grew up and went to school, not knowing was
considered something bad and connected to failure. As a result, I pride myself on the
amount of information I hold and feel insecure when I am apparently lacking knowledge.
However in my coaching work I see the true power behind the statement ‘I don’t know’. It
just means that there is uncharted territory up ahead and new thinking is required to
make sense of a situation.
Much like not knowing, stuck-ness shouldn’t be avoided; rather, celebrated. Feeling stuck is
the predecessor of all real understanding, just like I don’t know is the starting point for all
knowledge. When I see it like this, stuck-ness becomes potential growth instead of unknown
information; a chance for me to be a conscious part of creating new neural pathways in my
brain, a little something I like to call learning.
As I see it now there are three ways of dealing with stuck-ness as it shows up in my
life: Action/Change, Outer Acceptance, and Inner Acceptance. These three roads help me deal
with many problems actually. I start by defining the question. What is it I don’t know?
When I know the question behind my feeling of stuck-ness, I also get an idea of where I
might find an answer. This is my opportunity to learn, discover, go, see, listen, ask, feel, and adventure. I can take action and change the situation by finding out the answer to my question.
Not knowing can also be very beautiful in its own right. I like to think of all the different
things in life where I still don’t know. These are all places where I am still capable of feeling
a child’s wonder and curiosity. This should not be taken lightly. Stuck-ness can actually be an
opportunity for humility, letting go of control or of the desire to know everything.
To avoid falling into the bliss-trap of the new cage movement it is important for me to know
that sometimes I just feel stuck and it sucks! I don’t know what to do and I don’t feel like
seeing the opportunity in the stuck-ness. That’s okay! When I accept my inner state of
resistance, I create space for the emotion. I try not to judge myself as this just creates
further suffering or panic. I’m just fine with not being fine.
I hope my experiences can help you get unstuck or at least be fine with your stuck-ness