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Frustration: pleasure or burden?

Managers often sigh: “Cécile, I just don't get around to reflecting on how I'm doing. To think back on those fascinating concepts we discussed, I am stuck in the flow!”.

Over the course of a six-month leadership journey, that frustration often grows even more. People want to, but feel unable to, even if only for 5 minutes a day, stop and reflect on themselves and how they are doing. Even if it's only 3 times a week…

The way I am writing it here, it may sound like I'm making fun of it, but I see it a lot and recognise it in myself too. So I don't want to criticise it, but rather encourage you to take it very seriously.

Why we don't get around to 5 minutes of reflection a day…

Two things often come into play: (1) The victim role: we are subconsciously convinced that we can't (manage to). That it is too difficult and that we have too many other important things to do, which take priority over this. (2) our habits: it is just not in our day-to-day habits to reflect, to take some time for ourselves, to (even if only for 5 minutes) just stare out of the window and feel what is going on inside of us. It feels strange, unfamiliar, ‘who does that, right?’. Especially with a challenging job combined with a young family, especially with all the other things that demand our attention.

Frustration is a key driver of change

It is not soothing or smoothing, but rather ‘seeking out the frustration and powerlessness’ that helps people move forward. A hugely valuable but also very challenging lesson for me that Connecting Communication (Marshall Rosenberg, taught me. One that is also essential for managers who want more self-direction in their teams.

Becoming aware rather than brushing off

Only when I realise how much frustration and powerlessness I really feel AND realise what my underlying desire is, can I take it seriously. When I connect with my 'unfulfilled desire', which Rosenberg also called 'The beauty of the unfulfilled needs', only then do I mobilise in myself, as it were, the drive, the energy, the courage to face it. To come up with creative solutions myself to get one step closer to my desire. If I do not feel my frustration, do not allow it or if it is soothed or 'brushed away by others', it cannot help me, cannot encourage me to take responsibility for what is so important to me.

You may be thinking: sure, that is all well and good, but what if I still feel powerless, unable to deal with it, doesn’t that just make it even more frustrating? What is the point of ‘rubbing salt in the wound’ again?

Important question, because I certainly do not believe that there is an easy solution for everything. Sometimes we also have to 'mourn': come to terms with limitations, with what doesn't work out. In my experience, however, we often don't actually tap into everything we have already. We have not yet used all our creativity to realise what is so important to us. Out of helplessness or habit, we pay too little attention to it, are often unaware of it, and lack the energy or courage to take a closer look at it.

We can't do everything alone…

Moreover, looking at your frustrations, at what you find difficult, at what you want so badly, but what doesn't seem to work out, requires empathetic, expert guidance. I believe that we cannot solve everything on our own, that just being 'face to face with all those troublesome feelings' is so tough for many people that we automatically (as a survival mechanism) avoid it. We tend to flee, so no wonder if it seems too difficult to face it!

And now you may be thinking: sure, you’re just preaching to your own parish! But, dear reader, I tell you from the bottom of my heart, I have personally experienced first-hand how someone's help and empathetic guidance helped me overcome my drama behaviour (I am a very good complainer) step by step and really look at my desires. And to not give up, but to keep trying, experimenting… To keep the frustration 'alive', so to speak, so that it continues to encourage me to take my ambitions and dreams seriously, keep them warm, even when things get tough or very challenging.

Helping keep your people’s frustrations warm as a manager

This is how I would like to 'define' your role: how can you coach, support, encourage your people to hold on to their ambitions, dreams and desires, even if it is difficult. To keep believing in what is possible, even if you aren’t there yet today. To realise that it is 'up to me, if I want to go for something'. That I don't have to do it alone, but that it is up to me!

Would you like to explore your frustrations and see what dreams and ambitions lie hidden behind them? Then contact me for an intake.


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