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May 4, 2011


I had a really tough time with emotions when I was younger. My experience of emotion was that they were intense, deep, unpredictable, uncontrollable even.I picked up a bunch of lessons along the path of my maturity. One of them is that my emotions are important messages. They are feedback, information about how I am responding to my experience. 

Frustration, a particularly tough one for me, taught me an important lesson - to be creative. And here's how they connected for me.

There' an old adage, "if at first you don't succeed, try, try again." As much as this may help with persistence, say, in learning to ride a bike, it teaches nothing about how to go about learning, or what will make the next time different. And that's something I didn't realize early on -that persistence isn't enough. You can't just get back on the bike and do the same exact thing. You have to do something different, to try a different approach, a different balance, shifting weight differently, coordinating legs and hips, and so forth.Then, when you hit the right way, it still takes persistence to practice and master. But to succeed, one must already be on the correct path. Only then is persistence the road to achievement.

If someone climbed onto a bike and tried to stay upright without pedaling, they will very likely fall. If they got up, climbed on the bike again and did the same, they'd very likely fall again. Of course with something so simple, we figure it makes perfect sense, of course they should start pedaling, or balance differently, or some other variation!

Somehow, with more complex tasks, we end up doing just that. The same thing over and over again, expecting different results. Einstein called it insanity. I learned that's what frustration is. When I'm doing something a particular way, expecting certain results, but not getting what I want the way I'm trying to do it.

From a logical standpoint, there are two options: change the approach, or change the expectations! It's definitely not easy to change our expectations, particularly since we don't usually consider changing what we want.

The other option is to take a different approach, angle, vector, what have you. To shake it up, do something different. But again, particularly when "it's the way things are done," we don't usually consider the method as mutable. But that's the essence of creativity. So I learned to be creative.

Another great example of this is, perhaps, learning disabilities. For someone with a learning disability, they simply cannot get the desired result a particular way -they don't learn through a particular modality. The most effective way for an individual with a learning disability to absorb information is to pick a different modality, to be creative and find another path to the answer. 

Nowadays, I'm thinking it might be just as important to learn how to change (some of) my expectations.


  1. I admit I've had struggles like the ones you describe, and this post is a nice, fresh perspective. It seems like sucha simple idea, but you've shown us how it can be very profound. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  2. Thanks, I really appreciate the comment.