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Seven Ways to Exploit Persistent Dissatisfaction

Real leaders live with an itch that can’t be scratched.

Be happy with dissatisfaction or live an unsatisfying life.

Dissatisfaction drives leaders. Those who tell us to accept the world as it is, would be out of work if we believed them.

George Bernard Shaw writes,

“As long as there is want, I have reason for living. Satisfaction is death.”

Opportunity waits behind the door called dissatisfaction. The real issue is what to do with it.

Greatness is a function of addressing dissatisfaction.

If you are satisfied with the world, you aren’t a leader.

Exploiting dissatisfaction:

  1. Don’t rationalize dissatisfaction. If you persistently say it’s not that bad, it worse than you think.
  2. Define dissatisfaction. Courageously confront and name your dissatisfaction. Don’t hide. Stop pretending. Explore it.
  3. Own your dissatisfaction. Weak leaders blame. Strong leaders own. Are you dissatisfied because you aren’t getting what you want or you aren’t giving what you want?
  4. Don’t project. Dissatisfaction in ourselves often breeds dissatisfaction with others. Irresponsible leaders project their dissatisfaction on others.
  5. Categorize your dissatisfaction. Are they usually about people, circumstances, unrealized opportunities, or ….
  6. Tap the dissatisfaction of others. When others are dissatisfied, fuel their frustration don’t soothe or solve it. Leaders change things through others. If you’re working alone, you aren’t a leader.
  7. Define wins in observable language. Stop working against; work for. Rise above complaining.

Bonus: Change or lower your expectations. Maybe it’s not worth the effort. Maya Angelou said,

“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.”

The way you deal with dissatisfaction determines the quality of your life and the effectiveness of your leadership.


Dissatisfaction is dangerous when it promotes self-destructive behavior. You’re dissatisfied with your job, for example, so you stop giving your best.

What are the dangers of dissatisfaction?

How can leaders exploit dissatisfaction?

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