Professor Jennifer Jordan webinar - IMD Business School

Stuck - unstuck: using adversity to advance your career

How to use the current crisis to arrive at the place you'd like to be.
55 min.
May 2020


Ever felt “stuck” in your life or career? With just a few practical techniques, you can use the current crisis to get “unstuck” and arrive at the place you’d like to be.

This upbeat webinar – which appeared live on 22nd May 2020 – features Katharina Lange, IMD Professor of Leadership. She explores how to get things moving, where to negotiate and where to let go to advance your career.

Taking stock of where you are today is very important, according to Professor Lange. She reminds us that we are very complex creatures and that essentially, our narrative is basically fictional: “The best indicator for who we truly are is our observable behaviour,” says Professor Lange. “Ask someone you trust to comment and help you make sense of it.”

Using movies, artwork and psychology, her examples guide participants to new – and improved –perspectives.

“Role models are very important,” she insists, “and we can study them for inspiration.”

This is clear in the example taken from Alain de Botton’s book “Art is therapy”. Lange shares the story of Early Romantic artist Philip James de Loutherbourg, who was famous for his brilliantly illuminated landscapes. Artist William Turner – who achieved extraordinary acclaim in his lifetime, far greater than that of de Loutherbourg – adored his work and used him as an inspiration for painting with light.

Professor Lange reminds participants that in order to succeed, one must rethink their ambitions.

“If you want to improve your life, withdraw from your fixations and aim wider,” says Lange. “And sometimes you just have to be patient and hang in there.”

She gives a personal example of how she began consulting work at many years ago. Young and ambitious with hopes of saving the planet, her boss assigned her to an audit that involved only studying balance sheets. Although she disliked those two intense weeks of work, she learned something that ultimately benefitted her – paying attention to detail is important.

Lange then provides five tips on getting “unstuck”: 1. Envision your future; 2. Don’t pull the wool over your eyes; 3. Determine who can help you in your efforts; 4. Identify the ability you lack, or what you need to learn, in order to get to where you want to be; and 5. Decide what or who are you willing to sacrifice to get there.

Stressing the importance of limiting social media that can create unrealistic or unfair expectations, she says: “Compare yourself to who you were yesterday, not someone else today”, quoting Jordan Peterson and referring to his book “12 Rules for Life”.

Lastly, Lange encourages us to be brave and take a chance. Use your entire range and circle of influence to change the situation you’re in.

Only when you jump will you see the net,” smiles Lange.


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