How to End the Frustration of Recurring Problems

Frustrated leaders complain about having the same conversation. “We’ve talked about this problem over and over.”

Repetition creates the path of least resistance like rivers eventually wear channels in stone.

Pattern reflection:

Tell me the things you repeatedly do and I’ll tell you who you are and where you’re going. Aristotle put it this way, “We are what we repeatedly do.”

Reflect on repetition if you aspire to end self-defeat, self-sabotage, and stagnation.

  1. What actions/behaviors do you repeatedly engage in? “I repeatedly engage in…”
  2. What emotions do you repeatedly experience? “I frequently feel…”
  3. What frustration consistently intrudes into your interactions? “I feel frustrated when …”
  4. What thought patterns do you notice in yourself? “I repeatedly think about…”
  5. Who are you repeatedly interacting with? “I spend most of my time with…”

Action, emotion, thought, and connection explain who you are and where you’re going.

Pattern recognition:

Unnoticed patterns take you places you don’t want to go.

What’s obvious when a problem – you’re trying to fix – persists? It’s obvious the fix doesn’t work. The ability to move forward includes the courage to acknowledge that pedaling harder won’t work.

Pattern recognition makes room for new solutions. Pedaling harder doesn’t magically transform ineffective solutions into desired results.

Pattern recognition is the ability to end ineffective behaviors.

If you repeatedly have the same conversation about the same problem, YOU are the problem.

Patterns to notice:

#1. Repeated conversation.

We’re having this conversation for the third time. What will we do today to be sure we aren’t having the same conversation next week?

#2. Recurring frustration.

  1. What do you want that you aren’t getting?
  2. What are you trying to control that you can’t control?
  3. What would you like to try to end this recurring frustration?
  4. What will you stop doing?

Negative patterns produce predictable disappointment.

What negative patterns might leaders fall into?

How might leaders address recurring problems?

Bonus material:

7 Ways to Break Destructive Patterns (Leadership Freak)

Atomic Habits (James Clear)

Overcoming Pattern Behaviors (Extraordinary Conversations)