It’s easy to get stuck. Whether you’re starting a new business, climbing a corporate ladder, job-hunting—or doing all of this at the same time—you find yourself up against problems that don’t have a clear solution.

This is when you talk to your friends, mentors and coworkers. And that can produce fantastic results … sometimes. Those people all have one thing in common: they’re likely to have been immersed in the situation for a while. This is probably not the first time you’ve talked to them about your job, or your boss, or your new business. As your closest friends and confidantes, they’re also likely to be a lot like you in the way they approach a problem and view the world. Sometimes you need a fresh perspective, an outsider’s view of your world. This is what a co-storm is all about.

One of the most striking things about the co-storm I attended this weekend was the diversity. I talked with women whose ages spanned decades and whose current projects were surprisingly varied: a woman early in her career trying to negotiate a fair salary; a mid-career teacher launching a STEM summer camp; a longtime graphic designer creating a board game; a mother building a photography business; a young software developer eager to make her side project a reality; a start-upper in search of strategies for dealing with a hard-charging CEO; and a job-seeker hoping to better define her strengths and experience. 

During the six hours we spent together in the co-storm, I watched an amazing thing happen: People became unstuck. Their faces changed, their eyes lit up, and their body language relaxed as they were able to see their problems from a different perspective. They could focus with confidence on next steps. They finally knew what to do next.

The reasons they were stuck sashatunejpgwere as varied as the people themselves. Some realized they were asking the wrong questions. Others realized they were focused on what they thought they “should” do instead of where their strengths lay.  Many already knew the right answer—but the encouragement from others helped them to trust themselves. For all of them, generating focus and ideas among a new group of people was a transformative experience.

What I took away from the experience was that, when I find myself stuck on a problem, I’m probably also stuck in the way I’m searching for solutions to that problem. I’m probably looking in the same place over and over again. It’s crucial to look in new places, and with new people, for answers, and the co-storm was the perfect place to do just that. 

Sasha Pasulka – Director of Audience Product Marketing at Tableau   twitter.com/sashrocks