Have you ever been frustrated to a point where going felt like the best option? Or maybe the only option?
…Frustrated with a relationship, and you just had to get out.
…Frustrated in a marriage. So you walked out.
…Frustrated with a job. So you quit.
…Frustrated with your lack of progress. So you dropped the gym membership and grabbed a candy bar (sorry, was that too close to home?)
We’ve all been there. Most of us too many times to count.
The frustration to leaving conundrum is very real and very visceral. At times leaving is absolutely the best option. But not always. For now, let’s focus our energy on workplace frustrations.
I’ve never met a person who’s lived a life free of work-related frustration. As an emotion, frustration drives us to make many decisions. Not necessarily good decisions, but decisions none-the-less. Of all the decisions we face in the midst of our frustration, decisions that seemingly remove the frustration come to us first.
So, when we are frustrated at work, we often consider our options. When our frustration isn’t likely to change, we know it’s time to make a change. Change departments. Change bosses. Change companies. Change careers. And even change industries. But what if there is a different kind of change that is more fruitful?
If you are frustrated now (or the next time you are, which might even be tomorrow), here’s what I want you to consider: Is it possible that your leaving might sacrifice your growing? To say it a different way, running from frustration might ruin our chance to learn in the frustration. That’s a truth not easy to embrace.
Here’s what I’ve experienced personally, and I’m guessing many of you have, as well. When we are facing frustration, choosing to grow through it rather than go from is typically our best initial choice. I say initial because eventually most of us will move on from our current workplaces, but if there is an opportunity for us to grow first, leaving absolutely will remove it. What’s more, the opportunity may never resurface.
When I found myself frustrated at work, here are the decisions I try to consider:
1. Decide who’s responsible for the frustration?
If I’m the cause of my own frustration, then running doesn’t help in any way. Why? Because everywhere I go, there I am. If we pause long enough in any frustration, we will typically find we are part of the problem. Not necessarily all, but part. It might be our attitude. It might be our lack of hunger to grow in our role. It might be our pride, or maybe our emotional intelligence. Whatever it is, we must own our slice of the frustration pie.
That said, if we can conclude the frustration is outside of our locus of control, then we need to wrestle with some other emotions and decisions.
2. Decide to stay…longer than I want.
When there is a situation that is causing frustration, I’ve learned (at times the hard way), that patience in the situation is always the most prudent initial response. When we decide we are going to stay, no matter for how long, we must correspondingly decide that our staying will need to outlast our natural inclination for going. Staying in anything difficult isn’t easy, hence our propensity for going. But when we decide to stay for longer than we want, we position ourselves for deeper growth.
I believe the longer we stay, the more we can grow. Sure, there’s a point of diminishing returns, but often that is further away that we want to believe.
3. Decide what needs to grow before you eventually go.
Odds are you will go eventually, but when that time comes, hopefully, you will be choosing to run to something, not away from something. While you are sitting in the frustration, decide how and where you can grow in it — specifically. Where specifically can you learn. What specifically needs to mature in you. Here’s a hint: Your frustration. What’s causing your frustration is probably linked to the opportunity for your growth.
If we aren’t actively working to grow, then we might as well go. But if we can determine what areas of our life need to be improved, our frustration is a great tool to be leveraged in the growth.
4. Decide to go when you can’t grow.
There will be times when our need to go supersedes our need to grow. This happens most obviously when we recognize there is no more room for growth in the current context. Not that we are fully grown in all areas of our life, but that in our current workplace context, we have learned what we can learn in and through the frustration.
Think of this like a point of diminishing returns. When our growth work begins to return void, the returns on our efforts are most likely diminishing.
Going is inevitable, but going before growing sabotages our improvement opportunities.
I guess the easiest way to think about it, or at least the way I try to think about it, is to never run from something, only to something. If we only run to things, we help ensure our frustrations aren’t driving us away from opportunities to grow.
What do you think? Are you frustrated right now? Where can you grow before you go? Have you been frustrated in the past, but rather than go, you chose to stay? What was the result? Are you better for staying?