The business alignment process starts with taking three steps. The first step is recognizing when a company is misaligned and not making progress on fixing the problem. Those companies and their unhappy owners are stuck in the Circle of Frustration. Escape is difficult because the owner’s behaviors and decisions keep repeating themselves.
From my experience there are at least three signs of the Circle of Frustration:
1) Repeatedly asking versions of “Why is it so difficult?”
2) Grasping at clichés
3) Circular logic – “When things get better then we can start dealing with the problems.”
Let’s take a closer look at each sign.
Lyrics from ” Why is everything so difficult?”
Every frustrated business owner I have ever worked with has their version of the song, “Why is it so difficult?” Like country music, the different versions of the song have a pattern. Instead of references to lost love, broken pickup trucks, rodeos and beer, the misaligned company song usually references horrible meetings, lost talent, reply all email battles and fighting fires all day every day. Most business owners have asked versions of these questions:
“Why is it so difficult to…
•… make a hiring decision?
•… hire people that deliver results?
•… finish a meeting on time?
•… keep the ‘A’ players?
•… get through all the long emails arguing about the same things over and over?
•… put out all the fires and have time to work on the business?”
If you often sing the song, you may be stuck in the Circle of Frustration.
In Case of Emergency, Grasp for Clichés
As things get worse thoughts of whether the company or you will survive fill your head each night. You wake up in the middle of the night and reach for the first reassuring cliché that comes to mind. You might latch onto thoughts like the following:
• “If I could just get one great sales person, then things would turn around.”
• “If we win this account, then the cash would start coming in and we could hire ‘A’ players.”
• “I need ‘A’ players. If we had l ‘A’ players, things would be different.”
• “I just need to fire myself and hire a real CEO, I am an entrepreneur not a manager.”
If these are your comforting thoughts, you are sleeping in the Circle of Frustration, and dreaming how to escape.
When Things Get Better…
I know what you are thinking, “alright, alright I am probably stuck in the Circle of Frustration, but I don’t have time to change. I can barely keep the daily fires from burning this company down. Once things get better (insert favorite cliché) then we can sit down and start to change things.” But things won’t get better on their own and the daily emergencies will continue to keep you from doing something different.
Albert Einstein understood the key to escaping the Circle of Frustration and expressed it like this:
“You can’t solve current problems with current thinking. Current problems are the result of current thinking.”
Albert’s assessment of the situation makes it clear that your current thinking is what keeps you trapped in the Circle.
Okay, we want to get unstuck. Now what?
Once the leaders of a business recognize they are caught in the Circle of Frustration then they can turn their attention to steps to escape it. In the next installment, you will learn more about the three methods of escaping the Circle of Frustration: death, luck and choice.