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Irritation Motivation

The crazy thing about irritation is how it gets under your skin and annoys you. Ever had a splinter you can't get rid of? You'll know what I mean. Until you get that shard out of your skin you can't rest. Sometimes there are annoyances in the workplace you notice and your response is to sigh and walk. You know that they are there but you can't be bothered addressing them. Other times there are annoyances in the workplace that do your head in, they distract you daily and frustrate you and you can't stand them. Enter Irritation Motivation!




Maybe it's a policy or procedure or an individuals behaviour or something else. The key here is that the thing that has caught your attention in an irritating way is mostly likely able to be addressed by you. The reality is that if you don't do anything about it, this thing might just do your head in. You have noticed this because it's likely that it falls in your zone of competence. The incompetent will not notice what the competent does.


I was at a Leadership conference some years ago when this concept was first introduced to me and it felt a little bit overwhelming in that moment, I felt like I was being handed all the organisations challenges and it would be my job to fix them all. Then I took stock of my capabilities and realised that if there was a problem in the accounting department, it wouldn't be me that would find it or know what to do about it. The problems that I understood were related to people, customer service, client relationships and team communication. Anything outside of these fields someone else would be required to address.


I also realised that I didn't have to fix everything. There are one off scenarios that happen and I've often had these raised in coaching sessions where clients want to talk about the weird scenario that happened with a customer that they had never encountered before. My questions are "what can you learn from this? will it ever happen again? how much energy do you want to give this situation?

My advice to the one off scenarios is take it in your stride; weird stuff happens every so often; if it's a random event "spray and walk away".


For the irritants that are there on a regular basis that you have noticed that are really getting under your skin the question remains "what can you do about it?"

Here are the three options we all have.


  • Do nothing - live with it as it is, find a way to not let it distract you and torture you in your day to day functioning. Living with it means changing your perspective internally and deciding that the irritant whatever it is doesn't need to impact you or your world. Living with it is what a lot of people think that they have chosen, but they haven't quite sorted out the need to let it go! If you choose to do nothing you also need to let it go, and let all of it go.


  • Leave - leaving isn't failure, it's choosing a new direction. If you find that the irritant is unbearable it might become the motivator that makes you move on. Sometimes irritants can be a culture and changing a culture is a very big task. Leaving might be the better choice for you and your unbearable irritant.


  • Change it - make some effort to bring about change. Have a courageous conversation, think about other people who might be motivated to see a change happen. Remember that change is a process in itself and requires wisdom and discernment in its execution.


If you would like to have a conversation about irritants in your world and the best responses you can take towards them then a conversation with a mentor or coach will be of value to you. Another perspective and some additional wisdom can help us all when we are triggered by an irritant.



BSc.psychology, Diploma Professional Coaching, Master Trainer


Marina is a coach, professional development expert, and facilitator who specialises in helping people develop themselves so they can be the best version of themselves and conduct their personal and professional lives more effectively.


Learn more about her HERE




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