The Cascade Effect and How It Gets You Unstuck

Waterfall-cascade-flow

Action starts a cascade…

Springtime in New Hampshire means melting snow and loosening ice jams. And it makes me think of what I call the Cascade Effect.

What is that?

It’s what happens when you’re feeling stuck and you take action. What you’ll notice is that your action has an impact, not just on your immediate issue, but on other ‘stuck’ places as well.

Quite often, the more stuck you feel, the more powerfully rewarding and transformative this experience will be. You see, the time choices you make when you can’t get yourself moving are crucial.  And they are very simple, really. The main thing is to act.

What you discover next is that addressing problems in one area will cascade into other parts of your life, freeing up your energy and creativity in ways you wouldn’t have imagined.

The Cascade Effect

To illustrate this phenomenon I’d like to share a provocative post I read some time ago on Penelope Trunk’s blog.  The post is titled Solve most of your problems by solving just one. In it, she talks about getting herself unstuck (on a number of fronts) by working on one problem and solving it.  She writes:

Anyway, for most of last year, I struggled to blog regularly and run the company and be around for my kids. Finally, this month, when the company has been more difficult than ever, I managed to start blogging four times a week again. This is the result of trying a new time management trick every week, for months and months, until I figured out a system for getting the blog posts done. What finally worked was examining the other problems I was having in my life, and solving those first.

Why would this be so?

There are a number of possible reasons for the Cascade Effect.  Consider these two, for starters:

  • Being stuck is discouraging and leaves you feeling less capable than you actually are.  You hesitate to approach your work or other tasks and challenges because you simply feel overwhelmed and/or unable to approach them.  You’re likely to procrastinate, which adds to your stress and your feeling of being stuck.  And here’s the important thing to keep in mind: You reverse this trend by taking action on anything. Anything at all. As you do so, you feel your confidence return, and you’re ready for further action.
  • When you’re stuck, it’s a little like a dam has been erected in the midst of your life.  Think of it as a beaver dam – constructed of lots of sticks and debris.    Removing any single stick or bit of debris starts a trickle getting through that dam.  Remove a few more. Soon things will start to flow. Don’t worry about whether you’re removing the “correct” sticks, just get started.  The work will be rewarding, I guarantee it.

Getting into the flow…

When you work on any problem, you are releasing a stuck place.  Things will begin to flow more smoothly, your confidence will return, and you will have access to the ideas and energy that had been piling up behind the dam!

Have you found this to be true in your life? I’d love to hear how it’s worked for you, so drop me a line or leave a comment here.

And here’s something more, to help you flow…

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