The Upside's on the Flipside

It's never fun when someone disagrees with you, but in these moments we have a choice -- frustration and disapproval or change tact to something more positive that will help others.

Sitting in a doctor's surgery waiting for my turn, I'm not exactly channelling Aung San Suu Kyi.
I generally avoid doctors' waiting rooms like the plague, for many reasons. No one likes to be sick, ever, the places can be a little depressing and... doctors are always late!

It has become a personal sport, the art of waiting, but my patience ran out this day and it played out like so: first comes frustration (argh, I need to be back in the office), then bewilderment (how on earth can they get away with this?), a quick dose of email anxiety (if I don't get back to the office soon I'll have 1000 emails by the end of the day -- clearly exaggerated), then we're on the fast track to anger (I am busy, I don't need this right now) and finally disapproval (this is unacceptable customer service!).

It's a dance (a humorous one, in hindsight) between getting myself twisted up in unforgiving mental knots and thoughts like, "why are you letting this get the better of you?"

Jumping on Facebook and Twitter I vent, letting out a little frustration to see if anyone else had some mind-blowing answer to this perennially annoying first-world problem. Social media was my forum and maybe together we could nut out a strategy to change the planet, one doctor's surgery at a time.

"Why oh why can doctors never ever seem to stick to their appointment times?" I wrote, adding, "In my world 10.30 means 10.30... not 11.15 and counting. I would never get away with this in my business!!! Why do we let them?? A slightly frustrated and hungry Lisa x"

I was scheduled for a blood test, had fasted and was therefore starving. As time ticked on, my hungry belly only fuelled my indignation. And the messages came thick and fast. I especially liked the offers to deliver me food but just as Jeff's chicken caesar and Shona's Miss Chu had me salivating, it was a few unexpected comments that really threw me (and in the right direction).

This one from 'Jacqui': "I understand the frustration but if you were a patient that needed your doctor's care and attention, or your doctor had to visit you in hospital urgently, you might have a different view. Take a deep breath, count your lucky stars you hopefully don't have something serious that needs your doctor to spend more than 20 minutes on."

Bam. Take that. And I did.

I could choose to get cranky, self-righteous and judgmental with every visit, or be smart -- book when I'm not rushed, expect it to run over or take work or a book along. I could also be grateful that I was the one with the speedy 20-minute in-and-out appointment and that I was the one being held up, not the one doing the holding up because something more serious was going on.

The doctor's waiting room is not dissimilar to the tumultuous life of business. There are tricky situations, difficult people, fallen deals and brazen competitors, which make us feel frustrated, stressed, out of control, anxious or downright angry almost every day. Or every week at least. And we must be clever as to how we respond. After all, it was Steve Jobs who said: "I'm convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance."

Thanks to Jacqui (and co) for your intervention that day. On a return trip to the doctors' rooms I still noticed their tardiness but it didn't turn into a rant and rave session by yours truly. Instead, to pass the time, I bought every copy of The Collective from the hospital convenience store nearby and gave them away to fellow patients in the waiting room. "Bad situation gone good," I posted on the airwaves. "Happy days xx."

Flipping paradigms, finding the best perspective and having a sense of gratitude isn't always easy, so here are a few tips I like to keep tucked away in my entrepreneurial toolkit:

Understand your triggers

Look at what fires you up, why it happens and find some practical ways to deal with the personal impact.

Have empathy for others
Try to put yourself in their shoes and understand what their present reality might be.

Lower your expectations
Realise that while you may have certain benchmarks, not everyone operates in the same way.

Practice gratitude
Look for the good in every situation, so you can be grateful for what you have.

Learn patience
Accept that things don't always work on your timeline.

Listen to the uncomfortable stuff
Don't purposefully surround yourself with 'yes' people. Make room for individuals in your business and personal worlds to constructively challenge you.

Slow down
It's fun going like a bull at a gate at 1000 miles an hour, but even the most incredible people need to slow down every now and then, and dare I say it, switch off.

Don't lose your fight
While it's great to take stock and re-evaluate what's important and healthy, we must never lose our fighting spirit for the things that are right or matter - the key is to work out which battles are necessary.