I saw this marvelous sign on the side of a museum by the wharf in Oslo. I was there running a Lab with some wonderful folks in a beautiful city. It was one of those trips were most things flowed quite easily, not always the case with travel these days. It got me to think about frustration.
No, not the kind that comes when you are one of 400 passengers sitting on the tarmac for nearly three hours for 'maintenance' issues, only to be let off and discover that—once can find them—there are only two service staff to process all of you. All of you...
I mean the kind that is generative. Like, when something doesn't go your way and you use the occasion to clarify what you really want. The key difference is the former experience is deadening while the latter is awakening. One of the greatest gifts in coaching is to help people learn much faster such that they can get the key insight and pivot from frustration to flow in the moment!
As I write in my book, "Narrative coaching views frustration . . . as a generative and essential driver of growth when handled well. We don’t rush to relieve people’s frustration, but instead use it as an opportunity to explore their wholehearted wish and what stands in its way." We are curious about, “What frustrated desire is this person seeking to express and fulfill in this story?”
I think of a workshop participant who complained that her partner in the exercise was trying too hard to help her and wasn't listening to her. Rather than step in, I asked her what she was working on in this exercise. She responded that it had to do with claiming more of her personal power. I offered the possibility that her frustration was an invitation to notice that he was the perfect person for her in this exercise. He was offering her the perfect opportunity to express more of her own personal power by inviting him to participate with her differently. She later reported that this issue, which had plagued her for some time, began to dissolve in that moment. They went on to work well together.
Where is there a frustration in your life or practice that is calling you to wake up?
Dr David Drake is the founder of the field of Narrative Coaching.