Don’t Waste The Pain

Frustration from inefficiencies, inadequate systems, poor customer service and inflexible processes have led to some incredible innovations, inventions and breakthroughs. Frustration can be a catalyst for creativity and problem solving when harnessed properly.  When not handled properly, however, frustration can also lead to slower productivity, resistance to change and progress, as well as general whining and complaining.

In 2007 some chemistry lecturers were frustrated with all the time they were spending reteaching work to students who weren’t able to attend their lectures.  To free up some time, one of the lecturers decided to record certain lectures and upload it to YouTube for the students to watch.

They said, “In all honesty, we recorded our lessons out of selfishness. We were spending inordinate amounts of time re-teaching lessons to students who missed class, and the recorded lectures became our first line of defence.”

What happened next is something they could not have predicted.

“Students and teachers from all over the world began thanking us for our videos. Students, just like ours, who had struggled with chemistry found our videos and started using them to help them learn. We participate in several online science teacher forums and we began to share the links to the recorded lectures, and teachers from all over the country began to take notice. Chemistry teachers began to use our video lectures as sub plans and some new teachers used them to learn chemistry content so they could teach it to their students.” 

Their frustration not only solved their immediate problem of losing time reteaching work, but it also helped students world wide to improve their chemistry knowledge and has impacted on how chemistry is taught.

My karate instructor, Shihan Hoban Wong, was  old  school. He had traditional values that he instilled in every aspect of his training. One of these values was the importance of being a lifelong student. Towards the end of a training session, usually when we were most tired, Shihan would have us do several rounds of sparring (fighting with padding).

Each time an opponent landed a strike or kick, Shihan had taught us to acknowledge it with the sound  of  ‘Ooos’.  This was a deep guttural sound that you sort of forced out, like you would if you were blowing out a candle with great strength. It also happened to be the natural sound you make when someone kicks you in the stomach – so it wasn’t difficult to remember it. It didn’t matter if you were fighting a lower grade, if they landed something, you would acknowledge it with ‘Ooos’.

Saying ‘Ooos’ served two purposes. It was an immediate acknowledgement to your opponent that they landed something on you, and it was like a mini applause of ‘well done – good job’. ‘Ooos’ also, whilst not directly translated this way, means ‘thank you for teaching me’. ‘Ooos’ is a reminder that you are a lifelong student of karate, and that you are never done, never know it all, and that you must never rest on your laurels. ‘Ooos’ allowed us to learn from setbacks and mistakes by the very way it would highlight our weaknesses and encourage us to fix them.

In essence, ‘Ooos’ was a pure way of teaching us to leave our ego at the door and embrace learning wherever it presents itself.

When frustration presents itself, use it wisely.  If you indulge it, wallow in it, and let it consume you, then frustration will limit your ability to solve problems, you will struggle to inspire a team, and will continually fall behind in executing a plan or carrying out a ‘to do’ list.  If you use frustration, however, as a learning tool, and see it as a prompter to learn, to work outside of the box, and be a thought leader, then it can put you in a state of creativity and inspiration to achieve more and innovate when others are standing still.

© Michael Licenblat   All rights reserved.


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