It's Our Choice
Kevin Eikenberry


So much of our perspective and how we respond to the world around us relates to what we choose to think about. Recently I heard a phrase, the application of which is drastically changing my response to many situations. Over time, as this becomes my habit, it is going to help me with some behaviors I've wanted to change for a long time.

I was listening to a Jim Rohn CD as I drove to a meeting. Jim said "Why not choose fascination rather than frustration?" He went on to say that he used to get frustrated much more often than he does now, in part because rather than choosing to be frustrated by a situation he chooses to be fascinated instead. He went on to say he still does get frustrated sometimes, but this mental shift had made a positive impact on his life.

While I am a very positive person, I do get frustrated. I get frustrated when my computer won't do what I want it to do. I get frustrated by my children's behavior at times, when it doesn't match my expectations. Many days I get frustrated by my own inability to get as much done as I would like. (I could go on, but my list of frustrations wouldn't make for very good reading.)

Sometimes I Get It

In reflecting on Jim's observation I realized that I am already pretty good at this in some parts of my life.

When the source of the frustration is outside of my control - an airport delay or traffic tie-up are two situations that come to my mind - I have been able to reduce my own frustration.

In fact, I have often found it enjoyable and enlightening to focus on the hilarity of other peoples' responses to these situations. I can think of more than one time while in a car, or a line of some sort, when I was smiling and chuckling inside at the clearly counterproductive behaviors of those around me. Without realizing it, I was moving to an observer perspective, which was leading me to be more fascinated and less frustrated.

With My Computer

A functioning computer is one of the most business important assets I possess.  In the past few months I have had some nagging problems with my laptop - all related to the fact that I needed more memory and a bigger hard drive.  In short, it was time for a new machine.  When I first started encountering some intermittent problems, I would throw my own little pity party - and be frustrated while trying to solve the problem.  The problem with a pity party is that while you are partying, you aren't focused on moving forward.  I like going to parties, and am seldom the first to leave - but this isn't the kind of party where it pays to linger.

Eventually I realized the partying had to stop.  As I began to notice the signs of impeding problems, I was able to reduce the severity of those problems.  As I paid attention (became fascinated), I learned how to recover from these problems more quickly.

I write this with my new laptop, and the problems of the last one are quickly fading in my memory.  The lesson hasn't though - with the new machine comes new versions of software, settings to modify, other software to load and test.  The fascination lesson will continue to be important over the next few days!

With My Kids

I love my kids dearly, and I hope and pray that I am a good father. Mostly, I think I am, but sometimes I find myself getting frustrated by their actions.  While I know this is something all parents face, unfortunately, I haven't always handled my frustration in the most productive ways.  My approach has, too often, been to raise my voice - both to get their attention and to correct or modify the behavior. While I don't believe there is necessarily anything wrong with this approach, I use it too often, especially for things that don't require this level of interaction.

This is a behavior I have been working on for some time and the concept of choosing fascination over frustration (relating to their behavior) is going to be a huge key to helping me change my response.

Frustration and Fascination

We all get frustrated.  Things don't go our way and we get frustrated. One of the early lessons we learn as kids is that things don't always go the way you want.  Our life experiences have confirmed this.  We don't get the promotion, we don't like the way our boss talks to us, our car is making a funny noise, we can't find a parking place, we lose the softball game because of a stupid play by the third baseman.  Our frustrations in life are big and small.

In contrast, to be fascinated is to be captivated by something - to be interested.  When we are interested in something we notice, we observe things.  When we are fascinated by something we are drawn to learn from or about it - quite a different response from frustration and the places it can lead us.


It is inevitable in life that things don't always go exactly the way we'd like.  Typically people would then say that it is then inevitable that we will be frustrated.  The frustration however, is not the situation itself, but a response or a choice.  We have conditioned ourselves to choose frustration.  We can also choose to be fascinated in these situations.  Choosing frustration can lead to regret, anger, resentment and more.  Choosing fascination can lead to understanding, knowledge, and improved results and relationships.  The choice is mine.  And the choice is yours.

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Copyright, Kevin Eikenberry; Kevin is a speaker, trainer, and author.  Visit him at


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