This insight owes credit to Samuel Morse, 1791-1872, the inventor of Morse code and Lieutenant General Russel Honoré, U.S. Army (Ret.), who coined many colorful Cajun phrases.
Whether or not you have studied Morse code, chances are good that you are familiar with at least one phrase: …—… Translated literally, the code reads “SOS.” However, if you have ever seen the movie Titanic, you know that seaman use this code to send out a request for immediate help or to “Save Our Ship”.
General Honoré’s pointed translation for “SOS” had a very different meaning: “Stuck On Stupid”, or doing what you know is dumb more than once.
It is fascinating to consider why many of us continue to participate in certain behaviors, even when we know they will be unproductive or bring about unwanted results. Frequently, we fail to realize that the cause of our behavior is more likely internal than external. It is difficult to face the fact that we are the one common denominator for all of our experiences, both positive and negative. And it is even more difficult to understand why we would unconsciously put ourselves in non-productive situations. If we continue to behave this way – while rationalizing that we are not central to the situation – we become stuck. Once stuck, we continue to do the same dumb things.
There are numerous examples of dumb, non-productive behavior in the role of Business Development. If we occasionally fall into that behavior, it is not a real problem. However, if we find ourselves consistently doing the same non-productive behaviors over and over again, it is time to send out the SOS message that we are “Stuck on Stupid”. The question is – what can we do? Once we fall into these behaviors, how can we become “unstuck”?
Perhaps it is time to reprogram our thinking, as thinking drives behavior and it is our behavior that generates the responses that we get from other people. This kind of help can come from a number of sources: reading articles on behavioral psychology; learning the process of personal and professional goal setting; or perhaps studying the behavioral characteristics of great leaders. Any of these and others can move you beyond stuck and help you save your ship – your career.
All professionals interacting with customers require ongoing training to move beyond the kind of behavior that frustrates and confuses us. To paraphrase General Honoré, this periodic investment in our professional and personal development will keep us from getting “SOS” or “Stuck On Stupid”.