On September 7, 2011, I read the following quote from Simon Carr in the International Independent newspaper:
“A boss of mine once said: ‘I’m 40, never been fitter, playing the best squash of my life; the pro at the RAC is nearly 60 and he never takes more than two steps in any direction and I’ve never got more than three points off him in a game.’ “
We all know people like the club squash pro Carr describes—the people who make difficult things look easy. The people who, no matter how hard we might try to accomplish the same task, seem to float through it as if no human effort is required.
I hate these people.
My first reaction is: if I am struggling with something, I want you to struggle too. “Misery loves company” is the battle cry of the frustrated, for a reason. But, once I’ve considered it for a few minutes, do I really? If it’s possible, wouldn’t I rather hand over a challenging task to the person who is really, really good at it? Is my ego so fragile that I believe I need to be great at everything I do, including at work? Luckily, no, it’s not.
You see, we’re all “the squash pro” in some context and, I would offer, we’re each the player who can only win three points against the pro. We can let this situation frustrate us: “I can never, ever win against the pro!” Or, we can seek out opportunities where our talent and expertise thrive and bring us tremendous satisfaction.
The key for me, when I am frustrated or annoyed by some task, is to do two things:
- Find an expert to assist with the task.
- Remind myself of something I’m good at, so I don’t let frustration overwhelm me.
Neither of these things makes the frustration completely disappear, but at least I keep it in context and my unhappiness is short-lived.