Breaking Through Business Frustrations

By MARK RIFFEY for the Flathead Beacon

What things about your business are you fed up about?

Sometimes it might be everything or the very biggest things, but at other times, it might simply be an aspect of your business… the tiniest of things. Even in those cases, the frustration is just as strong. The only difference is the concern you have about the outcome and what’s right.

Lies and cookies
So what do you do about it?

Whenever I’m having a conversation with someone about this, I always remember Jim Rohn’s Girl Scout cookie story.

Rohn answered the door one day to find a Girl Scout standing in front of him. She gave the perfect pitch and made the ask. Rohn told her that he’d already bought cookies from another Scout and apologized.

The girl thanked him and moved on.

As Rohn shut the front door, he was fed up. He had just lied to a Girl Scout because he didn’t have the two dollars it took to buy a box of cookies.

He was 25 and had a family. That he had just lied over two bucks was a seminal moment in his life.  His frustration with where business was taking him couldn’t have been more clear.

Will_Rogers_1922. Obvious? Sure. Where to start? Not so.
While your everyday or even random massive frustrations might pale in comparison to Rohn’s cookie situation, it doesn’t mean they’re any less frustrating.

The problem that’s the source of business frustration tends to have an obvious solution. In my experience, most people have a decent idea what needs to be done. Some know *exactly* what must be done.

Yet these things often sit for days, weeks or months without action being taken.

Sometimes, where to start or how to start is the toughest part to identify, even if the solution itself is obvious.

A frequent cause is that you’ve not given yourself permission to start solving the problem because the mental / social baggage seems to have a steep price.

Permission? How so?
The permission thing might seem like an odd obstacle, but we’re strange creatures.

Quite often the mental barriers to solutions require mindset changes or decisions that we have trouble giving ourselves permission to make, or they require actions with the same barrier.

It isn’t that we don’t want to solve the problem. Instead, it tends to be conflict avoidance or a little dose of honesty with that person we see in the mirror.

When I’m discussing these things with business owners, they tell me I have such clarity and see through all the fog of problems they’re dealing with.

Really, though – I’m simply the only person who isn’t telling them what they want to hear. Instead, I’m telling them what they need to hear. Sometimes it seems as if I’m giving them permission, even though I don’t have a skin in the game.  All I’m doing is discussing the obstacle with them and at times, asking tough questions.

Again, it isn’t that these folks don’t know what to do, but the mental – and sometimes subconscious barriers – are often standing right in the middle of the path to solving the problem.

Breaking business frustration barriers
One exercise you might find useful is to project the problem onto someone else – someone you are sure is at least as smart as you. This person would certainly make the right decision if the right information was placed in front of them.

If you put this person in that situation, try a few of these tactics to pry loose a solution:

  • What would you say to this person?
  • What questions would you ask?
  • What’s the first step you would suggest for them?
  • What resources would you suggest for them?

I know. It seems like a stupid exercise. Yet that type of conversation is exactly how our conversations tend to go when this clarity comes out to play.

After I’ve had these conversations with someone, I often suggest that they try an exercise like this with themselves the next time they get stuck.

Most people find it useful, despite continuing to work with me. Some move along with the process and use it quite effectively, and some pass it along to their frustrated employees as a tactic to address their own challenges.

If you use another tactic to break out of these situations, I’d love to hear about it.

Want to learn more about Mark or ask him to write about a strategic, operations or marketing problem? See Mark’s sitecontact him on Twitter, or email him at


Want to learn more about Mark or ask him to write about a strategic, operations or marketing problem? See Mark’s sitecontact him on Twitter, or email him  Check out the Flathead Beacon archive of all of Mark’s blogs.