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  • Writer's pictureDr. Lisa Gonzales

A Coffee Break of Inspirational Leadership: Overcoming Frustration

We all face frustration. At work. In relationships. Behind the wheel. With our neighbors. Frustration is a way of life, but we don't always approach it the same way and the obstacles to overcome that are the source of our frustrations aren't always easy to discern.

There have been many articles written, and research projects conducted, on the topic of frustration. Many equate frustration to anger, which doesn't need to be the case. I tend to see frustration differently.

Wikpedia defines frustration as follows...

"In psychology, frustration is a common emotional response to opposition, related to anger, annoyance and disappointment, frustration arises from the perceived resistance to the fulfillment of an individual's will or goal[1] and is likely to increase when a will or goal is denied or blocked."

At work, let's face it. Frustration goes hand in hand more with annoyance than anything else. Not making goals, not achieving what a team sets out to do - it is frustrating, regardless of the external factors that may get in the way and our lack of control to do anything about those forces.

Frustration is when we prepared as much as we could for a project at work and it went sideways. Frustration is when a team member doesn't uphold his or her part of a project, adding stress to the rest of us. Frustration is when we face unexpected delays and feel as if we are letting others down.

And sometimes frustration is knowing we have let others down, both intentionally and accidentally.

But how we bounce back and make the project better, hold others accountable for their tasks, are transparent about delays that are out of our control, and taking ownership for the pain we might cause others is how WE deal with frustration.

When I was little, my grandmother would hold my hand and walk with me around the block, helping me past whatever bothered me at school that day. I never gave her enough credit for being so incredibly insightful - that walk around the block allowed me to step back, reevaluate, and tackle the challenge.

Maybe we need to find better ways to take a walk around the block in the ways that make sense for each of us. It might be taking a break, gaining another perspective, talking to a trusted colleague, going for a run....there are many approaches out there and no one perfect solution.

Are you one of those who goes silent when frustrated? If so, I know how you feel. I get that way too. But it's not that I shut down but more about my mind processing, reflecting. What worked? What didn't? Do I need to regroup or start over? Who are the other players? Do I need to talk it out or do the personalities involved require that I allow them some time to come back to the team? No easy questions. No simple answers.

Sometimes it makes sense to reach out to others when the frustrations at work and talk it through. That can make a huge difference in our responsiveness...and our mental health. Problems are not stop signs. They are guidelines. Frustrations are not stop signs. They are simply challenges that help us to grow and think differently.

Want more on frustration - read about it, watch it, and share it. Ready? Go!

I just loved this article when I ran across it. First of all, it was submitted on The Positivity Blog, a site that I frequent....and love. Secondly, the three steps it outlines - they totally make sense. Hope you think so too.

Take a look and read it HERE.

* Watch It.

We already know that I like TED surprise there. But this one is good (okay, I realize they are ALL good). This 18 minute video by Tim Harford how frustration can provide opportunities to rethink, redesign, and tap into our creativity. Hope you enjoy it.

* Share it.

Can you print these and share them? Notes to colleagues on key topics like bouncing back and survival can make a difference. Print in color on cardstock …. practically free! Here are a couple to consider…. and to give frequently. It’s up to us to remind others that struggles happen to all of us, but its about our response to them that makes the difference.

Now go slay yet another week!

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