It’s been nearly four years since I started Human Experience. During this time, it’s fair to say that I’ve spoken with a lot of people in business who are frustrated.
Before COVID-19 (BC) they were frustrated with the ongoing issues they had with their staff performance. And they were frustrated with the results they’re achieving, or more to the point, the results that their business is not achieving. Post COVID-19 (PC) the frustration seems to lie in not knowing what the future holds and if or how their business is going to move forward from here.
Now I completely empathise with all of those frustrations (both the BC and PC versions). But the challenge with a strong emotion like frustration is the emotive part of our brain (the amygdala) blocks our ability to engage with the more evolved part of our brain (the neocortex) which is where we do our clever thinking; where we get clarity, embrace creativity and solve complex problems.
So, if you want to actually solve the problem at hand, how can you move past frustration when you believe your people and your business are under performing? Or when (like right now) there’s so much uncertainty and no clear timelines?
I believe the answer starts with consciousness.
Consciousness begins with choosing to consciously acknowledge that there is a gap.
No blame games, no finger pointing and no emotion. Just becoming conscious that there is a gap between how people are performing and how you would like them to perform. There’s a gap between the results that you’re achieving and the results that you’d like to achieve. And right now, during COVID, there’s likely to be a gap between what you’d like to know and what you do know.
Consciousness doesn’t say “There’s no big problem, it’s just that
You’ll never hear consciousness say, “overall we’re good, we’re just not great”.
Likewise, consciousness doesn’t sound like “If we only knew when the restrictions will be lifted, then we’d be okay.”
Choosing consciousness sounds like “Yes there’s a problem.” Consciousness admits, “We’re not where we need to be.” Last week I heard a conscious leader share “I’ve gotten over the shock of not knowing while we try and run a business through this COVID s#%t. The fact is we don’t know what’s next and we don’t know when we will know.”
But consciousness doesn’t end there.
If you want to move beyond frustration and improve your results, you need to consciously decide that it’s important enough to do something about it. No solutions. No plan. Nothing to execute at this point, because consciousness doesn’t solve the problem. Consciousness just simply commits to solving the problem.
I know when someone has truly embraced consciousness because I see them take this awareness of the problem and a commitment to do something about it and they share it with the people they work with. They raise the collective consciousness.
Imagine a leader sharing with her team “I can see that there’s a clear gap between the performance of our team and where we need them to be in order to achieve the results we’ve budgeted for. Without getting into why we’ve ended up here or even talking about a plan to solve this, I want to let you know that I’m committed to doing something about it and I’m going to need your help.”
For arguments sake, let’s make this statement COVID relevant “I can see there’s a clear gap between what we know and what we’d like to know about our future. Without speculating or blaming the restrictions, I want you to know that I’m committed to doing something about future proofing this business and I’m going to need your help.”
And with both relatively simple statements, she’s just raised the collective consciousness of her team. Can you feel the power of consciousnesses in her statements? There’s not even the slightest sense of any frustration in her words. And the payoff… well now she’s ready to engage her clever neocortex, get creative and solve problems, and so are her team!
I don’t judge anyone who expresses their frustration to me. It’s a perfectly understandable human emotion that’s real for many of us in business, particularly right now. I’ve been there, as recently as a couple of weeks ago, and no doubt I will feel it again in the future.
But the next time you sense yourself getting frustrated, try to remember that it’s a vicious emotive cycle that limits your ability to think clearly, solve problems and get creative.
Try to remember that frustration has a kryptonite…. and its kryptonite is called consciousness.