How to Turn Frustration into Positive Direction
Frustration is unrealized potential.
Frustration drives ineffective leaders backward, inward, and downward.
Backward facing frustration reacts against an unsatisfying past.
- Top leaders disappointed.
- Results fell short.
- Teammates hung you out to dry.
- Progress stalled.
Successful leaders transform frustration into positive direction.
Energy feels negative when frustration stimulates complaining, blaming, and more frustration. But, in reality, energy is ambivalent. It just wants to do something. Wise leaders channel energy toward useful behaviors, rather than destructive.
You see where you want to go, when you admit that you don’t like where you are.
Dark emotions reveal the light. The darker you are on the inside the higher your potential.
The way you channel energy makes it useful or destructive.
Invite it. Have dinner with frustration. Dig in. Don’t bury it. What you don’t want points to what you want.
Stop it. Don’t focus on past behaviors, results, or patterns. The past is a platform not a destination.
Own it. Blaming others for your frustration is a cowards excuse to stay the same. Your frustrations are yours.
Ask it. The forward facing question that transforms frustration into positive direction is what do I want. Frustrated people forget what they want. The leadership tipping point happens when you find, own, and act on what you want?
Name it. It takes courage to say what you want, when you’re mad. Vulnerability, or lack thereof, determines where your energy takes you.
Do it. Misguided frustration comes out in demands, pressuring, and coercion. But, its not about them. It’s about you. Stop waiting for others. Take action. Those around you push back when you push them. Push yourself.
How does the dark-side destroy leaders?
How can leaders top into the dark-side?
Some of us learn this lesson late in life … channel your frustrations and let them be the kick in the butt that motivates you towards a positive goal. Sometimes you have to aim for a positive goal that supersedes your current job. Negative forces may force you from your job no matter how motived you are to circumvent the source of your frustration. In a situation like that … think of the positive seeds of progress you can salvage from your current frustration.
Thanks Michael. Yes, I learned this less LATE in life, sadly. The simple question, “What do I really want?” has made all the difference. I love asking that question to someone who is full of complaints, criticism, and frustration. Usually, they look perplexed because they have totally lost sight of what they want. They are consumed with what they don’t want. Trouble is, what we don’t want, doesn’t create a positive future.
Great great great post today Dan!!!
Most people have eyes with which to see and ears with which to hear. Fewer have eyes for sight and ears for listening.
So open your eyes wide and your ears far and wide and let your intuition guide you.
When frustrated DON’T stop!!!! Get more pissed that you have ever been and quadruple your determination to succeed.
The problem brings with it the solution and you have the choice to forge ahead to victory or hang your head in defeat.
Study successful people. They are nothing special actually, they just don’t quit when it feels like this is the best next move. Quitting isn’t the next best move, forging forward is.
Great stuff today Dan!!
Thanks Scott. That little line… “when frustrated don’t stop” really helps. So often we sit and stew in our frustrations.
Just GREAT today, I really love your picture choices lately too! Humor and steely determination!
Take care have a great weekend.
I watched a great documentary on Einstein……he just stuck with whatever he was up to till he figured it out. Years and years……seems no quitting sense has a lot to do with genius.
Once again an excellent post that helps shape my view of life in education.
Thanks cturunen. Best wishes.
What I like about your work, Dan, is how it helps to connect the dots for me. I have watched frustration grind some truly good people into powder, over the years. I myself wrestle with frustration every day. I am rarely frustrated for long, but I had never thought about why. Today’s piece got me to thinking and I realized that most times that I find myself frustrated, I unconsciously “root cause” it and remove the cause. And for those times that I dwell on a frustration, my wife is there to slap a little sense back into me. It’s good to have a secret weapon.
Thanks Steven. Love the image of frustration grinding us into powder. As long as we transform frustration into positive action we avoid the down side.
It sounds like your wife might get frustrated with you and take “positive” action. 😉 … I couldn’t agree more. It’s good to have a secret weapon.
have a great weekend.
I (too) like your “secret weapon” comment 🙂 — those who remind us where we are going and who we really are are sooo valuable.
Thanks, Dan! I really appreciate your insight on this important topic! I often frame this concept as that behind every complaint (yours or others) is a legitimate need, request, or desire. Complaining can be seen as merely an unskillful request for change. The opportunity is to dig underneath what can present as poor behavior on the surface to find the nugget of gold buried within. You’ve nailed it here with some great actionable steps!
Thanks Hanna. “Complaining can be seen as merely an unskillful request for change.” Bingo!
Oh, how I needed this yesterday! Regardless, this is great guidance and very helpful for the future.
Thanks Roy. There’s always tomorrow. 🙂
I wallowed in frustration for years, not realizing how to use it.
Best for the journey.
thank you, friend!
Totally agree. Indeed the past is not the ultimate destination. Mustapha Tahir. 30.05.2014
LOVE this post and the comments and the courage and the sparks the post has inspired (in other readers and in me). Prompted by the lovely remark someone made about “grinding you into powder” I thought of the oyster as a metaphor for how to deal with frustration.
Oysters get the grit and turn it into a pearl.. thank you google for giving me the full description:
“A natural pearl begins its life inside an oyster’s shell when an intruder, such as a grain of sand or bit of floating food, slips in between one of the two shells of the oyster and the protective layer that covers the mollusk’s organs, called the mantle. In order to protect itself from irritation, the oyster will quickly begin covering the uninvited visitor with layers of nacre — the mineral substance that fashions the mollusk’s shells. Layer upon layer of nacre, also known as mother-of-pearl, coat the grain of sand until the iridescent gem is formed.”
We are the oyster, the grit is frustration, the pearl is the potentially beautiful, valuable output… but we can only make the pearl if we know the grit is the source…. so my question to me (and my answer): am I channelling my frustration into something useful (the grit becomes the pearl) or am I being pulverized, ground down…
I say “NO MORE GRINDING!” Illegitimi non carborandum!
Great post, Dan. I have lived years in the frustrated mode. Ashamedly so. Good came out though! My most important learned lessons: 1) It’s not enough to angry; I must know the difference I want then move in that direction. 2) The longer I remained in frustration mode my reputation became one that said I was unproductive, unengaged and lazy. I expected others to see me and inquire on why. Instead, no one asked, but rather assumed they knew and understood. Then came the labels.
The buck started and stopped with me though…I should changed my course to a positive one and moved. Lesson learned!
The thing in a work environment, people get so frustrated so easily. These are the basics one has to follow and keep them in check.
Dan, your blog help me a lot in transforming a traditional family business in a more open organisation. You are doing a good job here.
Thanks Mariopraga. Congratulations and best wishes for the future.
Words to live by!. My favorites were: Stop waiting for others. Take action. Those around you push back when you push them. Push yourself. I learned a lot!