Making the Most of Dissatisfaction

When nagging dissatisfaction drives your leadership, teams struggle, relationships flounder, and results always disappoint.

Persistent dissatisfaction eventually becomes intolerable. Escape seems the only resolution.

The answer to dissatisfaction is learning to find satisfaction, not running from dissatisfaction.

The continually dissatisfied haven’t learned how to be satisfied.

How to navigate dissatisfaction without losing passion for excellence:

#1. Learn to feel two opposing emotions at once.

You are capable of feeling opposing emotions at the same time. (Cognition and Emotion)

A suffering parent dies. You feel both grief and relief. Your only son or daughter marries. You feel both joy and sadness.

You earn a promotion and you feel excitement and anxiety.

  1. Acknowledge negative emotion. Reflect on positive emotion. Satisfaction is a product of reflection, not circumstances.
  2. Practice giving compliments and expressing gratitude. When was the last time you said, “Thank you?”
  3. Consider how a dissatisfying situation is an opportunity for meaningful contribution.

#2. Realize eliminating problems isn’t the answer to finding satisfaction.

Problem free teams and organizations aren’t the solution to finding satisfaction. When problems and difficulties go down, satisfaction doesn’t automatically go up.

Eliminating a negative doesn’t automatically produce a positive.

Low income produces dissatisfaction, but an increase in income isn’t the answer to feeling satisfied. (Argyle/Martin)

Dissatisfaction continues because we haven’t learned to be satisfied. Your level of satisfaction in life is more about you than it is about life.

  1. Focus on solution-finding more than problem-declaring.
  2. Develop skills and practices that produce satisfaction. Practice full engagement and gratitude, for example.
  3. Ask yourself why you fear satisfaction.

#3. Create trajectory and momentum.

You need enough dissatisfaction to motivate, not so much dissatisfaction that it overwhelms.

Forget about attainment. Acceptable progress is leadership’s greatest achievement.

You rise to meet dissatisfaction when you believe you can resolve it.

How might leaders experience satisfaction and dissatisfaction at the same time?

What does learning to be satisfied – while pursuing excellence – look like?

Bonus material:

How to be More Satisfied with Your Life – 5 Steps Proven by Research (Time)

Stop Worrying about things you Can’t Control (Inc)