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When People With Power Frustrate You: The Technology Leader's Secret Sauce To Staying Sane

Technology leaders don’t always get their way right away because of who gets in their way. Three practices will help you settle down and move forward constructively.

I was stopped at a red light. When the light turned green, the car in front of me hesitated. I yelled, “Come on!” Of course, the windows were up and my voice wasn’t loud, more grimaced and frustrated, so the driver didn’t hear it, but I felt the need to say it. 

As I finally drove on, I asked myself, “What is going on with you?” Since I am a very patient person, I wondered why people who start slowly bug me so much. 

Then the lightbulb went off.

I wasn’t being impatient. Instead, the truth is I don’t like people getting in my way.

Once I realized that, a flood of memories poured out: Situations in which I didn’t handle myself well, not because of impatience as I thought, but because my plans and intentions were being frustrated. 

There is a big difference. Patience is something I can be; perception (you are in my way) is a relational dynamic I must resolve. 

I was dealing with the wrong root of a problem. I didn’t need more patience; I needed an honest perspective and a healthier response system.

This perception of people getting in my way has been a big deal that has manifested in small and big ways: irritation in being in crowds, aggravation of being interrupted at work, manipulation when I needed approval on a strategy or project.

And to add to the tension: We are not only executives, we are humans. That means we have a need for both autonomy and connection. What happens when the autonomy we want threatens the connection we seek to keep?

Can you relate? Have you been frustrated when a boss or board didn’t get it or asked for more details? Do you ever wish people would just trust you and let you do your thing? Do you despise delay?

Frustration is a monster when the person in the way has decision-making authority. 

What do you do when the person in your way has the right-of-way and you can’t tell them to get out of your way?

I have learned three practices that have transformed my inner world and have served me well in my relational world. 

Self-Control

Self-control has three dynamics at play when someone in authority is frustrating us.

Self-clarity is the inner posture that does not depend on someone else’s reflection of us to mirror how we see our true self. Self-clarity is when I stop and ground myself in the truth of who I am, what I am capable of, and the bright future that is in front of me.

Wise Response

Wisdom is the application of understanding. 

Frustration is alleviated by truth.

The truth of a situation may not lessen my need for action, but it informs it in a way I can manage the path forward. 

When I am frustrated with someone, I need to understand the dynamic that is at play. 

The likelihood is that we are operating with different information, responding with different interpretations, or defending different implications for the parties concerned. 

A wise response takes into account:

Noble Discomfort

You have chosen pain before. 

You have chosen it because you determined something was worth it. You know what it is to persist, to be determined, to grind it out and toughen up. 

We have scars, and some of them we bear with pride. 

Noble discomfort is the willingness to tolerate unfavorable conditions for greater reward. When our plans and intentions are frustrated, we exercise noble discomfort for the sake of the growth we see ahead. Farming is hard work; harvest is its great reward.

We don’t quit. We accomplish what is difficult; even if it could have been accomplished in easier fashion.

When People With Power Frustrate You: The Technology Leader's Secret Sauce To Staying Sane
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Photo by:
Towfiqu Barbhuiya

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