For how long are you affected by an annoyance? When things don’t turn out the way you wish or expect; when others act in a way that jars or aggravates you; when your intentions meet resistance or just don’t pan out; how do you react and for how long do you hold that gritted teeth response?

I’ve just returned from a short break in Cornwall with my 13-year-old son, cut short by the annoyances and vagaries of the British weather. It rained – a lot. I was annoyed!

Before my break I was working with a coaching client, Jon, on his emotional state following a significant commercially challenging situation that triggered what we identified as his pattern response. He was annoyed!

Much of my learning and sources of inspirational and the coaching advice I frequently offer, would include: ‘accept this’; ‘breathe and begin again’; ‘let it go’; I have discussed and written about these often, “Stop Whining” from The Impact Book; “Interrupt Your Slump” from The ‘Keep It Simple’ Book and “Sh*t Happens” from The Attitude Book.

But in the moment of the annoying incident this can be immensely challenging.

The path back to powerful you, the state where you can apply the advice, and regain your ability to become centred and move on is likely a learned and repeated habitual journey.

In exploring and discovering Jon’s pattern he was able to work through it faster and brilliantly work through and past his challenge.

Jon’s path:

1.       Grrr – the initial reaction, mostly internal, sometimes leaching into his verbal responses and his physical disposition in relation to the people and context.

2.       Understanding – often a reluctant exploration of what this annoyance is all about

3.       Turn it to my advantage – expanding and creating ways to use the new situation

4.       Garner Resources – what new tools, people, thinking will help here?

5.       Build Expertise – new knowledge, capture the learning, find best practice

6.       Gain Height – a new position on which to view the challenge, knowing but above the level of detail

In practice, prior to this articulated awareness, Jon would often get stuck at his first step, preventing him from moving to stage 2. This early reluctance meant the journey to Gaining Height (and adding immense value) would remain a long way off, if reached at all!

Sometimes we need the ‘Grrr’ to begin our journey but getting stuck there feels rubbish and likely attracts more stuff that further annoys us. I have found over the years as a coach and someone who has had to work through my share of annoyances, that a way to skip this first stage is to stay calmer longer. This is a skill that requires heightened awareness, practice and persistence. Simply remaining calm for a few seconds longer can allow the pattern responses to anything annoying pass without affecting you adversely and making your journey back to full power equally annoyingly difficult.

What’s your pattern process? Notice it; define it; finesse it; then upgrade it.

Keep Calm and Simple!