How Frustrations Can Be Valuable Tools

by Catherine Pratt

In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity. - Albert Einstein

Frustrations can be valuable

It was a long, tense boardroom meeting. The team from Finance wanted to scrap the whole project due to budget concerns while the Marketing group felt it would be worth the extra cost. Both sides raised valid points. In the end though, everyone was just frustrated. They had no idea how to move forward with this issue. It was beginning to look like the only answer was to ask a director to make the final decision.

It was Suzanne from Marketing who suddenly made the brilliant comment of, “What is the end result we’re trying to achieve here?”

And that is the answer to how to deal with frustrations. Let me explain.

Our initial reaction when hitting a setback or a "roadblock”, whether it be during an important project or even just trying to finish a task, is usually one of frustration or thoughts along the lines of:
• “Why does this always happen to me?”
• ”Why doesn’t anything ever work for me?”
• "This is never going to work"
• ”Well, I guess that’s the end of that idea. Back to the drawing board.”

Or you become completely focused on the obstacle instead of what you're really trying to achieve.

It doesn’t have to be this way though. By simply changing how you view the situation you can dramatically alter the ending. So, how can those frustrating moments be valuable? Here’s how:

Frustrations can indicate that you need to take a step back

You’ve heard of people not being able to see the trees for the forest, well you can get so caught up in wanting to accomplish a particular task that you forget the reason why you started in the first place. Stop and take a step back to look at the big picture. As Suzanne asked, “What is the end result you’re trying to achieve?” Take the time to re-affirm the original goal and see if you’re still on the right path. You may discover that you’ve somehow started down a road you never really intended to travel. It’s easy to get so caught up in dealing with the day to day issues that you don’t realize that you’re now way off course. Take the time to re-focus on exactly what it is that you want to accomplish and you may find that you’ve just saved yourself a lot of time, effort, and money on something you didn’t want to be involved with anyway.

Roadblocks can be an excellent opportunity to brainstorm

Sometimes when a plan is created, all of the potential options aren’t considered. You just immediately think of a solution and go for it. When you run into a frustration, it could be an excellent opportunity to brainstorm. You may discover far more efficient or cost effective opportunities available just by taking the time to do some research.

Here’s an example: say you decide to publish a “How To” book to answer the most frequently asked questions from your customers. You get it all set up and then find out that the printing costs are just too high. You could give up on the idea or you could brainstorm.

During a brainstorming session, you could consider:
- could you create an e-book instead which would save the printed production costs?
- could you print and bind it yourself with the tools that are now available for just this purpose?
- could you alter certain areas to make it cheaper (ie. use less colour photos, use only 2 colours, etc.)?
- is there a technical college available which may be willing to do the work cheaper as a learning tool for their students?
- would it be more effective as a web site?
- is there a more effective way to get the information out to your customers?

The benefit of brainstorming is that you may discover a far better idea than the original plan. You may end up really glad that you didn’t go with the original direction. My web site, Life With Confidence is actually an example of how a roadblock for me ended up being a complete turning point to a much better destination.

Problems can be a sign that you need a break

Your first reaction when running into a roadblock may be that you absolutely have to solve the issue no matter what. Just like whenever Superman saw some dastardly deed being done, he had to rush in to save the day. The problem with this is that you become focused on the feeling that the problem must be solved right now. It’s how people start to make huge mountains out of anthills. It can also cause you such stress that you just can’t come up with the answer. If you can take a break and come back to look at the situation from a fresh viewpoint, you may find that the issue wasn’t really as big of a deal as you initially thought. Also, after you’ve had a chance to re-charge your batteries and regain your enthusiasm, the roadblocks may just disappear on their own with a solution suddenly seeming so very obvious. You just couldn’t see it before because you were only concentrating on solving an issue that seemed huge at the time when it really wasn’t.

Frustrations As Tools for Success

If you can think of your frustrations as opportunities then you will be far ahead of those that simply give up whenever problems occur. Think of roadblocks as “silver linings” for your goals and you’ll be amazed at what solutions suddenly appear. Your confidence to achieve your ultimate desires will increase as you now know you have incredible power. Your goals may suddenly become much closer than you thought and be even greater achievements and all because you knew frustrations are really valuable tools. You just needed to know how to use them.

"Problems often act as stones that wear away the
rough edges of your plan rather than as roadblocks"
from Seize the Day by Danny Cox and John Hoover

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Also, check out my FREE ebook, The Power of Frustration

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