Forty-seven minutes of the playoff game was history. Only 49 seconds remained on the clock during Game 5 of round two of the Western Conference NBA Playoffs. The visiting Los Angeles Clippers held a 104 – 97 lead over the OKC Thunder.
Hope of a Thunder win was improbable. How could they pull it off? Was it even possible? Fan frustration with another loss – an unnecessary loss – grew while the probability of securing a 3 – 2 series advantage on their home court faded.
Responding to the story
How do you respond – or more likely react – to unfulfilled expectations, to an “unfortunate” situation? It’s so easy to jump to conclusions or make assumptions with limited knowledge of the past or the future … it’s all so emotion-driven.
Yes, frustration is a natural response to unfulfilled expectations. The question is: How do you manage your frustration over unfulfilled expectations?
Freedom to respond and engage, instead of react, is mature self- leadership. It requires mindfulness – living awake, alert, and aware. Or as defined by Richard Boyatzis in Resonant Leadership, “Mindfulness is living in a state of full, conscious awareness of one’s whole self, other people, and the context in which we live and work.”
The challenge is to create space to think when frustrated.
Edit the story
To create space in an emotionally charged situation you must slow the pace. And it just so happens that P.A.C.E. is an acrostic to show the way.
- Pause and breathe
Slow your emotional, flight/flight response with the support of a deep breath. Simple, but effective.
- Ask questions
Why am I frustrated? Why do I feel threatened? What do I want … control or influence? Why?
- Challenge beliefs
What am I accepting as true? Is it true? How do I know? Why do I believe that?
- Edit the story
This is where possible vs. probable comes into play.
The goal is to edit the story of what happened with the best possible explanation. It doesn’t have to be probable, just possible for your mind to accept it. Creating an alternative possibility frees your mind to gain another perspective, another way to think about the situation. This can free you to be proactive, instead of reactive.
Frustration drives unproductive behavior. Editing the story creates the opportunity to become rational and then, productive. Give it try.
- Think of a recent situation when you were frustrated.
- Why were you frustrated? What did you expect?
- What are you accepting as true? What do you believe about the situation? The person?
- What is another possible explanation?
- Now, how will you move forward? What’s your desired outcome?
This work is about effective self-leadership when frustrated. The goal is to effectively hold people accountable and to improve performance. To do so, you must manage your frustration. Not easy, but possible.
The Thunder overcame a seven-point deficit in the last 49 seconds to beat Los Angeles 105-104. It appears they believed it was possible to win the game and edited the story.
Here’s to expanding your personal influence,
PS: Improving performance is what happens in Next Generation Leaders team-based coaching. If you’d like to see more details of how we develop self-managed teams and leaders, see the team-based coaching page.