From Frustration to Innovation

by Create Wellbeing, Inspire Teams, Reduce Conflict

I wish I could find words similar to those used by wise Buddhists or other gurus that never seem to get frustrated. I’d bring you calm, soothing messages of hope. The bold truth is, however, I can identify with a number of human experiences tinted by frustration and anger.

Most of us do NOT live and work in isolated monasteries, surrounded by silent-vow obeying people. Quite the opposite, actually. Crammed in commute, overworked, and wondering how to cover rent next month, chances are, we’ll easily get frustrated at some point(s) in life. So, let’s use the fire to make things happen!


Let’s have a look at frustration

Particularly this month, frustration levels tend to rise.

As a whole year of business has passed, you may weigh up in how far you achieved your business goals. You may be checking if you got the bonus this year, or how your cash flow looks like for the next two months.

Positive outcomes here will intensify a sense of joy and gratitude. Negative ones, though, will surely foster strong feelings of frustration.

With Christmas coming up, you may also be experiencing high expectations, tinged with past frustrations.

Christmas tends to be an event loaded with ambivalent, saddening emotions (maybe you recall a year where you thought to yourself in hindsight: next year will have to be different!).

“Our fatigue is often caused not by work, but by worry, frustration and resentment”

Dale Carnegie

he end of the year tends to be a time for most of us with just ‘loads of stuff’ happening and we desperately try to fit it all in. Furthermore, winter is having a toll on us with shorter, darker days and, in general, energy seems to run lower. At work, you may feel less engagement of your teams, maybe with an increasing number of sick leaves.

So, how do we handle frustration? How can we manage the source of it all?

Remember that any emotion can serve as a “change agent.” Strong emotions work for us almost as an alarm that indicates we will have to shift our attention onto a pressing need.

In the case of frustration, it’s most likely to invite you to revise your expectations:

  1. Where did you think you would be right now in life, but simply aren’t? (Earnings, relationship status, wellbeing, etc)
  2. What’s the mindset of your team? (promises not being met, delayed perks, lack of sense of community, etc)
  3. What did you think your own role was like in your position? In how far does it respond to reality?

Frustration, although quite painful at times, is a very positive and essential part of success

Bo Bennett

How can we shape our teams to collaborate more, even become empowered, through frustration?

In previous articles, we’ve talked about Employee Engagement, Empowerment, Motivation, and Cohesive Teams.

But we need to tackle the issue of frustration, in order to be in the Flow – and work in a productive manner that promises performance.

Anger is a different story but comes hand-in-hand with frustration. Anger can show up in conflict management (sometimes as a sign to mark your limits, and ‘say no’), but it’s also a symptom of frustration.

In fact, one leads to the other. Though it’s a force in itself, it’s also a bit of a dangerous one. So, you will want to capture the vibe before anger emerges. You will have to tune up your aerials in order to re-connect your team with the overall vision!

It’s crucial for us to know what the bigger picture in times of stress and high demands.

It’s easy to forget, as a leader, that when employees don’t get the wide view, not only does the point of their work escape them, but it can also lead to real frustration. It’s hard to feel pride and ownership when you don’t understand where things are going

Jason Fried

The bottom line is leadership.

In order to manage your team’s frustrations and empower them, you will start by discovering your own processes of this emotional imbalance.  


To help you navigate through the challenges you may face at work in your leadership role, we create monthly worksheets with simple, yet hands-on 5-min and 10-min activities. Simple exercises help you get on track and stay focused at work. Take a sneak peek below.

We offer these worksheets for free!

Check our full library of practical worksheets here. In our section on Leadership, you can download this month’s Thriving on Emotions Worksheet, with activities to implement right away and practice every day. Browse the library to find extra exercises to improve motivation, lower stress, and increase productivity.

**Quick peek into our WORKSHEET**

 _For you, if…

  •  You feel that your team’s communication is a bit “off”
  • You want to increase performance & productivity
  • You want to turn frustration into innovation


_Quickies 5min

 A) Quick Reality Check

Write down your top 5 expectations in regard to your current frustration. Examples of frustration could be related to your current job/role, a conflict you may have with someone, your financial situation, etc…
Here we go:

I am frustrated about:__________

My underlying expectations, if I’d be 100% honest with myself are:
1. __________
2. __________
3. __________
4. __________
5. __________


Here’s an example:

I am frustrated about: my new role

My underlying expectations, if I’d be 100% honest with myself are:

  • I wanted more money, but not necessarily more hours at work.
  • I oversold myself a little, now I have difficulties performing and don’t know who to ask for help.
  • I expected my new colleagues to be more invested in the project.
  • I thought the new tasks would make me feel more fulfilled but they are actually a bit tedious.
  • Having to report to a new boss in the organization is more challenging than I expected.

 _Take it further!

    …take it further and deepen the learning by doing all the exercises suggested on our worksheet. Sign up below with your name and email to download the complete worksheet.



    Always keen to know how you are getting on!





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