Positive Lives Blog

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Under the Spell

I've come to believe that all my past failure and frustration were actually laying the foundation for the understandings that have created the new level of living I now enjoy.  Tony Robbins

All that is necessary to break the spell of inertia and frustration is to act as if it were impossible to fail. Dorothea Brande

Frustration – we’ve all felt it. When nothing goes right, when every plan fails. When do I get my Lucky Break? When can I stop banging my head on that very inert and unmovable brick wall? In that frame of mind, you might find yourself saying, "Typical, that's the Story of my life."

Have you found that when you are out and about networking there are two topics of conversation? One is that everything is just marvellous, wonderful, splendid (the new British “Mustn’t Grumble” with an American flavour!). And the second is how frustrating it is right now for businesses to make any headway.

I’ve called this blog “Under the Spell”, and I’ll explain why. There are indeed invisible forces around us which affect the way we’re thinking and therefore our capacity to act. Forces like economics, like the Arab Spring, like the constant media message about what our lives are like, should be like or shouldn’t be like. Maybe even the shifting of the teutonic plates influences us. It certainly reminds us that even the planet itself is in upheaval.

You may think that I’m away with the fairies. Come back to Reality, you may tell me. But my point is, there are a lot of very negative stories around. We turn them over in our heads, in our conversations, and sadly in our business meetings when we could be leading and inspiring.  The more we repeat these negative stories, the more they become Reality for us. The Negative Story has a huge power to influence us. What leaders need to do right now is work on the Positive Story, to help us rise out of our inertia and frustration.  Not a story devoid of all Reality told from a lofty height. No, a skilful leader-storyteller will connect with his team, and say, “I know how you feel”.

So how do we deal with Frustration? We could anaesthetise ourselves; we could lock ourselves in a cupboard and come out when the Recession is over.

Seriously though, every human being experiences frustration at some point in their lives. Tony Robbins takes the long view on frustration as an important formative phase in his life. Dorothea Brande encourages us to act, and adopt a mindset that failure is absolutely impossible. That’s all very well for those who have overcome their hurdles and achieved their dreams. What about the rest of us? How do we nurture a positive mindset in these times?

Here’s what some of my favourite colleagues and coaches had to say about Frustration and how to deal with it:

@AnnabeWeir: Go back to basics & core activities. Are you still doing what you love and what fits with your values?

@helenrcaton: Frustration is a pent-up desire to move forward - but if we don't know where we're going, actions can be substitutes for clear direction.  We can release a lot of that frustration by being very, very clear about what success looks like, feels like - and how it aligns with our values.

@trishswinscoe: Money worries can niggle away at you, but it's your attitude, not always the economic reality, that defines the situation.

Finally, a tip from recruitment expert @AdamPButler, who says "Try something new!" Good advice, as we know the definition of madness is to keep doing the same things but expect different results. You might even find trying something new in a different area of your life, volunteering for instance, will open up fresh energy, insights and approaches (and contacts) for your task ahead. Anything to break the spell of the Negative Story.

Follow any of the above tips and you will start to create habits that overcome frustration.  You might also like to follow my contributors on Twitter for more insights.

My tip? It’s a simple one: Eliminate as many negative stories in your life as you can. Turn off the TV and Do Something More Useful Instead.  Practice some “mental hygiene”; Mindfulness helps stop the Negative Storyteller in your head.  Don't worry, if there’s a national crisis, somebody is bound to tell you at your next networking meeting.


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