Frustration and trusting that the dots will connect

Frustration over an extended period of time influences your leadership thinking and behavior in a not-so-favorable way. Your temper can flare over low-level or non-issue occurrences. Feelings of self-doubt and ineffectiveness build and surface in your demeanor for all to see. You hesitate, second-guess and avoid decisions, large and small, hoping that they will wash away. You say, “We’ve tried everything and nothing seems to work,” knowing you’re avoiding solutions that will pull you out of your comfort zone and rock the boat – when rocking the boat is just what’s needed.

Frustration gets you hoping that a map will mysteriously appear to guide you in the right direction. I went to see Seth Godin speak and something he said really stuck with me. He said, “There is no map. You must keep shipping things out the door every day.” (Meaning try something new every day.) If you’re frustrated and feeling stuck, stop looking for that map because it doesn’t exist. Try something new. Rock the boat a little every day. Reignite your passion to build a great company. Stop making excuses and go no compromise. What’s the worst that can happen? Remain stuck and you’ll find out.

I’ve been reading articles about Steve Jobs’ resignation from Apple. There was an excerpt from a commencement address he did in 2005 at Stanford University. He said, “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.” Jobs also said that in order to do great work, you have to love what you do. If frustration has gotten the best of you, it’s time to fall in love with your work and company again. If you can’t, find a new love.

Here are some no-compromise strategies to banish feelings of frustration and being stuck:

  • Believe in yourself: If you believe a whole bunch of ugly stuff is going to happen, it probably will. How about believing in the one person who can turn your frustration into elation? You. That’s right, start believing in you. I once suffered from depression. I stopped believing in myself. Didn’t recognize myself. Once I flipped a few mental switches in the right direction, the cloud of depression lifted. I got off my butt, made decisions I was avoiding and took action. (The worst didn’t happen.) And I started working out and fell in love with bike riding. It started with believing in myself.
  • You‘re not a fiddle: Long-term personal relationships and emotional attachments with employees can become massive roadblocks to busting loose from frustration and feeling stuck. Why? Because over time, employees can learn how to play you like a fiddle and influence your decisions and behavior. It’s not a bad thing – until you begin compromising on key decisions that impact the health and viability of the company to avoid upsetting employees. The no-compromise leader must lead above these emotions to avoid becoming a fiddle that plays a bad tune.
  • Change your routine: Your work routine can be a major source of frustration. It’s your routine that keeps delivering the results that make you feel stuck. Change your work hours to better fit when you’re most effective and innovative. I’m most effective early in the morning and avoid scheduling meetings later in the day. Tackle the gotta-get-done stuff early. Changing up your routine is the easiest way to regain control of your time and recharge your ability to lead.
  • Address the elephant: There is a big decision or task that you’ve been avoiding. It’s your elephant in the living room. Frustration builds the more you get comfortable with and avoid the elephant. The elephant can be the payroll that your company can no longer afford. The options to reduce payroll may not be pleasant, but the no-compromise leader must engage. The elephant may be an employee who needs to get it together or hit the road. Whatever your elephant is, it’s time to address it and get rid of it. The longer you avoid it, the more frustrated you get. Engage.
  • Score some wins: So it’s been a while since you and your team experienced a real win. Frustration saps energy – yours and everyone around you. It’s hard to play like a championship team when your company’s energy tank is out of gas. The best way to start scoring some wins is to start showing up like the leader of a championship team and show everyone where the goal line is. Need more sales? Start calling those good customers who you haven’t seen in a while. Turn on those wonderful selling systems that everyone has been ignoring. The key is to show up and lead with conviction and passion. If you’re frustrated and stuck, the wrong you has been showing up.
  • This isn’t about you: It’s about your company. Frustration may have beaten you down, but sitting around whining and doing that “woe is me” thing is nothing more than you hosting your own pity party. You are the leader of your company. This is your watch. When your personal fears and insecurities get the best of you, it’s time to ask for help and get a coach. “Business depression” is debilitating. A good leadership coach can help you regain confidence, effectively address those elephants, and get you back in the leadership game.
  • Lock onto your vision: It’s your vision that inspired you to create and give life to that amazing thing called “your company.” Whenever I feel frustrated, I reconnect with why I started Strategies and the work I do. I reflect on accomplishments and key milestones. Doing so helps me feel strong and that my collective work is in moving me closer to achieving my full potential. And at 61, I’m still striving to reach my full potential. That alone keeps me locked onto my vision.

Look forward and trust that the dots will somehow connect in the future. And they will if you take that first step.

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Please share your thoughts with me about today’s Monday Morning Wake-Up. Click above to comment.

Neil Ducoff, Founder & CEO of Strategies and author of No-Compromise Leadership

Pass this e-mail on to your business colleagues, managers and friends. They’ll appreciate it.


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