How to Escape Toxic Dissatisfaction

Dissatisfaction grows in the gap between aspiration and reality.

Dissatisfaction that lingers in the gap between aspiration and reality defeats aspiration. You begin to think, “Why try?”

Dissatisfaction is boredom with sameness.

Dissatisfaction is self-condemnation for falling short of expectation.

Monkey looking in a mirror.

Healthy dissatisfaction motivates self-reflection.

Toxic dissatisfaction:

  1. Thinking others exist to serve us.
  2. Making others responsible for our happiness.
  3. Frustration with the incompetence of others. (Accept people and go from there.)
  4. Disappointment that others aren’t as generous as you. When generosity has strings, it’s manipulation. Manipulative generosity results in toxic dissatisfaction.
  5. Displeasure with dumb people. Superiority always ends with dissatisfaction.

Roots of toxic dissatisfaction:

  1. Victimhood. Look at how hard my life is, and I can’t do anything about it.
  2. Distrust. Distrust pollutes your attitude and steals your joy.
  3. Negative expectation. You find what you look for. If you look for dissatisfaction, you’ll find it.
  4. ‘Yeah but’ thinking. ‘But’ is an eraser. You reached your goal, but we could have done better. Even an imbecile can say, “We could have done better.”

Healthy dissatisfaction:

Healthy dissatisfaction motivates self-reflection.

When people fall short, leaders ask the Ben Zander question. “Who am I being that the eyes of my children are not shining?” (Replace ‘children’ with team, colleagues, co-workers, etc.)

Healthy dissatisfaction never erases past successes.

You don’t have to hate the past to desire a different future. At the least, you learned what doesn’t work. And that is no small thing.

Toxic dissatisfaction rejects learning in favor of perfection.

Healthy dissatisfaction makes room for celebration.

A leader who never celebrates is a narrow hole that no one escapes.

Healthy dissatisfaction cries out, “Keep trying.”

When does healthy dissatisfaction become toxic?