How Your Frustrations Could Become Your Guides


“What’s required appears to continually interfere with us getting what we want!”

In an average day, I have a whole lotta wants:

  • I want to be on time, and I am “required” to be in a traffic jam.
  • I want my son to realize something obviously important – e.g., perspiration trumps inspiration – but he resists.
  • I want my students to “get past” the nitty gritty to see the big picture.
  • I want my wife to hear something or say something  just the way I would.
  • I want my team to get over the stupid office politics.
  • I want everyone to see the presidential election the way I see it.
  • I want my coaching clients to seize on my advice and report back on their breakthrough results.

Yep, it — or yes, I! — sure look stupid, don’t I?!!!  Why in the world would — let alone why in the world should — everything bend to my ideas and will? And yet I harbor these “wants” and I resent what Michael Brown in the quote above calls “what’s required.”  But I so love his idea — that these annoyances are required — and so I share it with you briefly.

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In The Presence Process, a totally life-changing book, Brown suggests that what’s-here-now is “required” for us.  So to use my examples above:  Maybe that morning traffic held something — e.g., a reminder to me to breathe and stay attentive. And maybe I (or some part of me beyond my controlling ego) required that my son not be listening to me…so I could see him as okay, perhaps, and not in need of fixing?  And maybe Mr. Big Picture requires — really needs — those nitty gritty students so I appreciate how others learn in different ways, so that my blind spots emerge into view.

I vastly oversimplify the ideas and guided practice in this magnificent book, but in the 12 weeks since I started this book and the accompanying practice, I have experienced 120 if not 1200 times how my ego’s battles with what’s here cause me to miss what this-here-now is providing, is asking, is offering me.  The obstacles are required if I am to truly engage now and grow and serve well.

If you can make this adjustment just a few times today, things could look better, easier, more interesting and alive.  See if you can catch some moments when you can’t have what you want and ask, “huh, I wonder why this is required?  What’s really here for me to experience?

So, what am I required to hear from YOU?  I’m open to it all, as we

Lead with our best selves,


*Brown, Michael (2010-06-01). The Presence Process – A Journey Into Present Moment Awareness (Kindle Locations 3359-3360). Namaste Publishing Inc.. Kindle Edition.  Brown’s book leads into a 10-week meditation program.  You need not have meditated before to use the process.  I am deeply grateful to my cousin Bill Taylor who recommended it to me.

  • Dan – appreciate your article, and especially a few of the bolded sentences – such as the very useful admonition to “make adjustments a few times a day,” and the recognition of the ego’s battles.
    Thanks for your relentless commitment to growth and awareness.

  • Frustration is often a two way road, where each side is frustrated, not just you. But when one side holds the decision making power, frustration is mainly one sided. We exprience this on the telephone more often these days, trying to explain things to a credit card company, cable company, or an insurace company, or a car lease company, or whoever,who must be reached by an 800 telephone number. They make the decision, often without hearing what we have to say. They are scripted and will say things that do not at all make sense to our situtation, thenwe wonder how smart they are, or if they playing games with us, or plainly wonder what is going on. And that is the problem in many frustrating situation – scripted discussion. You need to find a way to convince the other party that what they are saying does not match the situation. The people at the other end of 800 phone numbers often seem incapable of doing anything that does not fit the script. When you teach business leaders, they need to learn the lesson that it is impossible to set in stone scripts that will answer their customers needs. They need to provide an out for the customer who is frustrated by the script.

  • Dan, this is interesting conversation. I believe the what’s required philosophy has many variables. For example I don’t want my husband to clone my every thought. I want him to love me and together we discover our love language and what’s required for the both of us to feel loved and heard. As far as students and children are concerned the big picture is important. We would be in error to over look it. However Im not consumed by the idea that a delay in their visual imagery, social, and purposed connection is not as developed as mine. Don’t get me wrong it’s beautiful when it is. I’m more concerned that they have a picture or the makings of one at all. Not enough time to discuss in depth but I’m not sure the ego rules in the philosophy of what’s required. Perhaps I’ll have to take a glance at the book to see just where my protagonist and antagonist clash. Great food for thought.

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