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Why Inspiration Might Not Get You as Far as You Want in Business

by | Jun 6, 2019

In the world of business, the search for inspiration can feel endless. Not only do we wait for inspiration to strike, often twiddling our thumbs in the process, but we leave certain positions and environments because they’re not offering us the inspiration we want. In fact, hearing, “I just wasn’t inspired,” as a reason for quitting in any industry is becoming more and more commonplace.

But, what if inspiration isn’t everything? What if there’s a more powerful, more productive emotion we’re overlooking?

According to Sir Richard Branson, the billionaire entrepreneur behind the Virgin Group and all 400 of its companies, frustration is the fuel needed to get ahead. Not only does frustration breed innovation, but it’s a more uncomfortable emotion, which means it compels you to get out of it faster than the dulcet tones of inspiration ever will.

Branson, who often offers advice to groups at both personal and professional events, recently said, “You often spot opportunities from personal frustration.” That means, if you’re looking for that moment of inspiration, don’t overlook your feelings of frustration. Oftentimes, frustration is the hidden catalyst for inspiration because it compels you to do something in order to change that situation. If you want to be an innovator or a leader at work, finding ways to solve your own frustrations is a great place to start.

According to Christine Hassler, a life coach and professional speaker, frustration arises when you know you can do more or do more better, but you’re just not quite there yet. Understanding frustration as part of the natural progression to your success, she says, can help you better embrace it – and use it. (And give up your hobby of only chasing inspiration.) When you feel frustrated, remember that it’s a sign that there’s room for improvement. Whether you feel frustrated personally or with a product or process, that emotion is giving you important information; it’s inspiration behind a mask.

When Branson famously decided to start Virgin Airlines, it was because he was frustrated with the experience he was having. And, rather than moping or trying to find a way to avoid feeling frustrated, he dove right in so that he could fix it. As a result, he started yet another successful company, taking another step closer to where he is today. (And that’s pretty much the top of the world.)

Today, Branson is still using frustration to breed innovation within the Virgin Group. Unhappy with many of the cruise experiences they were having, Branson and his team are re-imagining the cruise industry, developing an experience that will be free of “kids, buffets and limits”. The new anti-cruise experience is expected to launch next spring, 2020.

So, the next time you find yourself hungry for inspiration, don’t be afraid to explore your frustration. Spending some time outside of your comfort zone, it turns out, might just help you discover the next big move in your professional life.