May 12

Being Stuck is a Choice – Lessons From Jury Duty


I just got back to the office after one of those moments in life that we all try to avoid -Jury Duty.
OH NO! I am going to be STUCK there for who knows how long. OK, maybe you're a better person than me and joyfully celebrate when you get your jury summons. Not me.

I want to share a few lessons I learned from my jury duty experience today:

Instead of focusing on that feeling of being stuck (an embedded pattern), I chose to look at this as an opportunity to observe others going through the same thing. It was enlightening! I arrived about 7:30am, well before the 8:00am time frame on the summons. I entered the door and was immediately faced with several Sheriff's Deputies at the security check station. This could be where another embedded pattern emerged...that feeling of being stuck in line to be poked and prodded and metal detected. But again, I chose to look around, breathe, and talk to some of the deputies. They turned out to be really nice people.

Then I had to get in line again just to show my summons to the people checking us in. Another choice point. Since I was trying to be more intentional about not allowing myself to feel stuck, I started looking around. They had a very efficient system, and the line moved quickly. I was invited to sit in one of the chairs in the jury waiting room by a very cordial lady who seemed to care about me. OK...I have been to other places to respond to a jury summons and did not remember it being this way. I started to wonder how much of what I had felt before was more about my choices than the experience.

Photo by Ben White

We waited more than an hour before the Judges showed up and did their thing. We were sworn in and then told that of the 5 pending cases for the day, 2 settled, 2 were postponed, and there was only 1 felony criminal case still on the docket. I looked around and observed a clear uplifting of attitudes when everyone heard this. The chances of going home early and not making it a multiple day event had just gotten a lot better! We were told they would come back in a little while to make the final selections. Then...we waited. 30 minutes turned into 1 hour which turned into 1.5 hours.

Nothing. No word. By this time everyone had started moving around, conversations broke out around a room that will hold 350 people. This is when it got interesting. I started to see the frustration level rise in those I observed. Agitation, anxiety, worry, distraction, and in one guys case, flat out anger. The uncertainty and seeming lack of attention brought out some interesting behavior. I was so busy observing and talking with people that I completely forgot to feel frustrated or upset.

The judge finally came back into the room. He took a moment to look around, then announced that a plea deal had been agreed to. He mentioned that he rarely allows that on the day a trial is supposed to start. I wish you could have observed what I did when I looked around the room! I saw just about every emotion you can imagine. It was a moment of clarity for me. People actually do choose the emotions they allow to "live on" and these emotional drivers directly correlate with their behavior and actions. While some were happy and elated, others were mad and frustrated.


Feeling stuck is a choice. Will you focus on the emotional drivers and patterns that keep you stuck, or will you choose to repurpose those to get better results and get un-stuck? My embedded patterns tended to come out of a selfish place. I am not proud of that, but now that I recognize that pattern, and chose to do something different, I was able to move forward. As a matter of fact, I was able to outline the next 4 online courses I want to develop in what normally would have been unproductive time.

Sure, there are things in life we cannot control. But living in what I call, "stuckedness" is something we can control.


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