Finding Opportunity in Frustration
What frustrates you?
· Where are my keys?
· Your order is out of stock.
· I missed my flight.
· We’ve selected someone else for the job.
Finding the right inspiration for a written piece can oftentimes be frustrating for me. It was for songwriter Robert Lamm as well.
Lamm was maddingly annoyed. It was in the wee hours of the morning. Lamm explains:
“I was living with a bunch of hippies up above Sunset Strip. One of the advantages of this particular house was that it was in the Hollywood Hills and I could look out over the city late at night. I wanted to describe the process of writing the song that I was writing. So, ‘waiting for the break of day, searching for something to say, flashing lights against the sky’—there was a neon sign across the street. That song came from the fact that it was 25 or 6 to 4 am (3:35) in the morning when I looked at my watch—I was looking for a line to finish the chorus.”
To this day nearly 50 years later “25 or 6 to 4” is typically the finale at most Chicago concerts. You can hear the aggravation, tension, and labor in the music. Interestingly, and perhaps coincidentally, Lamm had just penned “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?” prior to his restless morning.
Is it not true that opportunity may lurk just beneath our irritation?
Where are my keys? Maybe I’ll just get some exercise and walk instead… Public transportation isn’t such a bad option… I don’t need to run that errand just now… If I take a breath and walk away there’s a good chance I’ll remember where I put those keys… There are some things I need to do at home right now anyway…
Your order is out of stock. That makes my decision easier; I’ll just go with the comparable item—it was less expensive anyway… On afterthought I didn’t need it right now… I’m glad of that after hearing about all the complaints about the product after I placed my order…
I missed my flight. Fortunately there’s another one I can get on that has a shorter connecting layover… There’s some work I can do or some phone calls I can make with that extra time… Now at least I’ve got some time to grab a bite to eat… Perhaps I don’t need to travel to see that client; just as much can be done with a phone call or through Skype…
We’ve selected someone else for the job. I wasn’t so sure about the person who would have been my boss anyway… The company’s financials appeared a bit shaky… My current job looks a whole lot better right now… I really didn’t want to have to move my family to North Dakota… I have to admit I wasn’t ready to have to go through the adjustment of transitioning to a new job…
When met with life’s frustrations and aggravations:
· Initially, take a breath, and try to release the tension and shock.
· Pause again and reassess what you’ve just learned.
· Is what just happened really that important in the whole scheme of things?
· Consider the situation: reframe it, refocus, and then rethink.
· Make a plan going forward.
· Have gratitude.
· Add the incident to your rich archive of life stories that will be of benefit to others and might even bring a laugh at a social gathering.
Take heart. Great moments have come from mistakes and seemingly the worst of situations. If it were not so, there would have not been a “Candid Camera” or “America’s Funniest Home Videos.” Or a 25 or 6 to 4 for that matter.
The Seed Sower