The (Beneficial) Power of Frustration

The (Beneficial) Power of Frustration

I have spent the last 25 years of my career either managing implementations or working with customers to ensure a successful implementation.  During that time, my most prominent theory for the use of consultants is that ‘trial and error is not an implementation methodology’.  It’s true.

Many companies consider the use of consultants for various projects like an ERP implementation or an upgrade.  Why bother?  The simple answer is that you are buying the security that comes with experience.  Imagine having the wisdom of your parents when you were 21?  Or having the crystal ball to know all you needed to know to avoid your biggest mistakes?  What would you pay for that?

The world is full of trial and error folks who just want to figure it out on their own.  I know because I am one of them.  The list of software in which I consider myself “self-taught” is longer than I care to admit.  The cost of that education may be even higher.

I bring this up because I read an interesting article about FRUSTRATION.  That’s the emotion you feel at your lack of success.  Sometimes it’s a project at work.  Sometimes it’s a personal project.  Sometimes you’re frustrated with yourself and at other times it’s with others around you.  No matter what, there is a sense of failure.  This article however, points out that there may be value in frustration. Take a second to read it.

In consulting, we talk often about knowledge transfer and the ability to help our customers reach self-sufficiency before disengaging on a project.  It reminds me of the axiom “give a man a fish and he eats for a day but teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime”.  Based on the above article, frustration may not be a negative, but a sign of the learning process.  As consultants, our nature is to want to help people, but this article reminds us that some frustration can be beneficial.  The key is recognizing when frustration crosses into a sense of futility.  When it does, that is when you truly appreciate your consultants and the wealth of experience they can bring to your project to save you from the perils of trial and error.  Those same sentiments apply to my plumber, my HVAC technician, and my auto mechanic.

But those stories, while quite funny, will have to wait for another day. If you haven’t already, read the article. I found it very worthwhile, and I’m betting you will too.