I think that is often the case that we are accomplices in our own frustrations. You need proof? You get it from Google, where else!’

According to Google statistics, people search the word “money” four times as often as the word “goal”. This creates a word: “frustration”.
~Tim Fargo, Alphabet Success – Keeping it


And its not really nice where frustrations can take us. Here’s Lemony Snicket in The Wide Window:

Frustration is an interesting emotional state, because it tends to bring out the worst in whoever is frustrated. Frustrated babies tend to throw food and make a mess. Frustrated citizens tend to execute kings and queens and make a democracy. And frustrated moths tend to bang up against lightbulbs and make light fixtures all dusty.”

People cry, laugh, scream, commit murder and even suicide out of frustration. Here are a few quotations about frustration, its causes and how to deal with it.

 “Forget perfect on the first try. In the face of frustration, your best tool is a few deep breaths, and remembering that you can do anything once you’ve practed two hundred times.”
~Miriam Peskowitz, The Daring Book for Girls

* * *

“The path of my life is strewn with cow pats from the devil’s own satanic herd!”
~Rowan Atkinson, Blackadder II: Complete Series

* * *

“Our frustration is greater when we have much and want more than when we have nothing and want some. We are less dissatisfied when we lack many things than when we seem to lack but one thing.”
~Eric Hoffer

* * *

“Were you born this infuriating?”
“It’s taken me years of practice.”
~Misty Massey, Mad Kestrel

* * *

“Am I ever angry or frustrated? I only feel angry sometimes when I see waste, when things that we waste are what people need, things that would save them from dying. Frustrated? No, never.”
~Mother Teresa, The Joy in Loving: A Guide to Daily Living
* * *

And people have different ways of dealing with it.

“Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion. I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning do to do afterward.”
~Kurt Vonnegut


“To conquer frustration, one must remain intensely focused on the outcome, not the obstacles.”
~T.F. Hodge, From Within I Rise



So the next  time you are feeling frustrated remember this:



I Love Training

When I was young, I never imagined I’d be involved in any sort of teaching or training. I believed I simply did not have what it takes. However, when I started working I found that I loved teaching my juniors. Explaining things; coaching; all aspects of building a person up and improving their knowledge base.

Later when I joined Athwela, Sri Lanka’s first business magazine in Sinhala as its managing director and managing editor, I got into training in a big way. We were travelling around the country to promote the magazine and our key promotional tool were seminars to business startups and small and medium enterprises.

Then, as part of a natural progression, I moved on to personal development topics. Why? Because no one can win or do well with anything, including business, if they did not have the right attitude; towards learning, improving, mistakes and life. I truly believed that personal development training would solve lots of problems of local entrepreneurs. And it does. This is also true for anyone, including students, stay at home mothers, public and private sector employees and business startups.

After I developed a name as a trainer, one specializing in Sinhala training, other organizations, such as Unilever’s Fair and Lovely Foundation, Royal Dutch Shell’s ShellLiveWire, The Sri Lanka Australia Natural Resource Management Project and HSBC’s Public Affairs Division invited me to design and conduct various public programmes. All were so much fun and provided a lot of rich and varied experiences for me.

All of these were conducted in Sinhala. I’ve basically worked in all the districts other than the North and East (this was prior to the end of the civil war).

I was also happy to be invited to conduct a number of Supervisory Development and Management Development seminars for the JASTECA Institute of Management. That moved me into management training, which is something I really enjoy. Some of the management development sessions were conducted in English.

In addition to what’s mentioned above, I’ve conducted numerous workshops and training sessions for private and public sector participants as inhouse sessions.

What I love about training

I love the variety. I specialize in tailoring training content for my audiences. I train in Sinhala and English. And I work with kids, teens and adults from all walks of life.

Reading audience moods and pitching at the right level are huge challenges that I love taking on. Thankfully I’ve not put many people to sleep even in the after lunch sessions. There is too much going on.

Training keeps me on my toes. What I do best is learning. So I like to give that skill to others as well, in addition to delivery of content. I like to continuously improve what I do, and myself of course. Training work, especially serial training sessions which require the same content be delivered again and again would seem boring to some trainers. But it is important to remember this is a new audience in front of you each time. You have to be as enthusiastic about the 20th programme as you were about the 1st.

Then there is the huge opportunity to test out new methods of getting a message across. Of fine tuning exercises and interactions. Training is a dynamic field. You cannot rest upon your laurels and expect to do well. I generally get great feedback. But it is a personal challenge for me to see whether I can improve it even further. And no better way for this than with serial programmes.

Understanding audiences and pitching at the correct level is a joy for me. Training for one audience is different than training another. Even in Training in one firm is not the same as training in another firm. The company culture may be different and therefore the mood. It all depends.

This means getting to know specific issues and reading between lines and capturing the nuances and the vibes. Understanding the vibes is important because facilitating learning depends on this to a large extent.

For example, in some firms mixed audiences—blue and white collar—may provide great learning experiences while in others it can kill all spontaneity. If this happens—fortunately has not happened to me so far, it can make learning less fun and much less effective. It is a fine balance.

I get great feedback. That is great in itself, but I am not boasting, it is just a fact. And it does not come without a lot of effort and careful consideration.

For one thing, I think of my participants all the time. Can those in the back see? Can you hear? Is the light in your eyes? Are you comfortable? Can you understand?

One would imagine this is basic courtesy but I’ve personally sat in sessions where the trainer’s delivery goes way over the top of audience’s heads and little is learnt as a result. People cannot read the slides, the text is too small. The trainer mumbles despite the audio and makes little eye contact. The gestures and tone don’t match what they are saying leading to cognitive dissonance. And it is all boring lecture only format. Who would not fall asleep then?

Training and workshops are not lectures. Thankfully. I personally don’t like lectures. All trainers need to move around, ask questions, provoke thinking and interactions. All of this makes a difference to the participants and their learning process.

Training is not about delivery of content. It is about getting people to think, take things on board and actually using them in their lives the next day onwards.

And people don’t come to training sessions as they are going to a magic show. Its good to have fun and get laughs. But it is important to ensure that all action is related to learning. Not gimmicks for the sake of entertainment.

And I am happy to report that I don’t have an ongoing love affair, as I call it, with the screen. I don’t arrive with boring set of slides. I don’t take anything for granted. And this naturally pays off. In terms of great feedback.

I even prepare so that if power goes off—especially in village/remote areas without backup power—I can still continue. Only the slides will be missing, but the learning will continue. It has happened before; so it is not totally paranoia on my part.

The kind of feedback I get keeps me going

Here’s some feedback from a set of workshops on Managing Personal Finances I counducted for mostly blue collar workers of the MAS group (garments and accessories). The workshops were sponsored as a CSR project by HSBC.

A summary for evaluations from 10 workshops with over 750 participants:

  • What I learnt at the workshop is: Very useful (87%); Useful (13%); Somewhat useful (0%); Useless (0%)
  • The extent to which the things I learnt would help me succeed in life: Very useful (80%); Useful (20%); Somewhat useful (0%); Useless (0%)
  • Would you recommend this workshop to others? Yes (100%); No (0%)

And here’s that in visual format:



I am a learner, so I love helping others learn. I studied organisational development and change management. And I have seen in practice, both in the UK and Sri Lanka, how this can go really wrong, making it disastrous for both employers and their employees. So I am very careful in all I do AND say.

I also keep reading books about learning, psychology and self development. So helping others learn is an intrinsically satisfying thing for me. In this world of ours, where the only certainties are death and constant change, teaching to learn is a valuable gift I can pass on to my audiences. This is especially important for adults.

Here’s my motto:

“In times of change, learners inherit the Earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.”—Eric Hoffer

If you are looking for a great trainer for your business, give me a call or send a message. I’d be delighted to talk about how best we can work together to solve your business issues.


When somone is upset, your initial response matters


A women under stress is not immediately concerned with finding solutions to her problems but rather seeks relief by expressing herself and being understood.~John Gray

And not just women, this applies to everyone. I read in The Happiest Toddler on the Block how it applies to kids and adults alike.

When somene is upset, they go ‘ape’ and their brains revert back to relying on primitive brain responses. This is the natural human response to stress. Logic does not work then. The kindest thing to do is to show sympathy in a way that your friend (or child or whoever is upset) cool down, by showing you care, that you understand.

So when a friend or your partner says “My boss is terrible. Illogical, I’ve had enough, I wish I could leave this job!” or something similar about any aspect of life, don’t reciprocate with “Yes I’ve had a bad day at work also. We should both look for jobs.” That makes you come out as insensitive. Lacking understanding. In toddlers it makes their moods worse.

Instead sympathize with a phrase like, “I know, it must be so difficult for you…” Afterwards when the upset person cools down, you can talk about things, with a clearer perspective.

I leave you with a quote by Mister Rogers:

In times of stress, the best thing we can do for each other is to listen with our ears and our hearts and to be assured that our questions are just as important as our answers.
~Fred Rogers in The World According to Mister Rogers: Important Things to Remember

Read Stress, Don’t Let it Overpower You, a collection of inspirational stress quotations in my other blog.


Do you get angry?

Refraction_of_light_2 Wikimedia Commons

Here are a few quotations to ponder on:

“Speak when you are angry and you will make the best speech you will ever regret.”
― Ambrose Bierce
* * *
“Anybody can become angry — that is easy, but to be angry with the right person and to the right degree and at the right time and for the right purpose, and in the right way — that is not within everybody’s power and is not easy.”
― Aristotle

* * *

“Learn this from me. Holding anger is a poison. It eats you from inside. We think that hating is a weapon that attacks the person who harmed us. But hatred is a curved blade. And the harm we do, we do to ourselves.”
― Mitch Albom, The Five People You Meet in Heaven

* * *

“The first human who hurled an insult instead of a stone was the founder of civilization.”
― Sigmund Freud

* * *

“Never forget what a man says to you when he is angry.”
― Henry Ward Beecher

* * *

“Conquer the angry one by not getting angry; conquer the wicked by goodness; conquer the stingy by generosity, and the liar by speaking the truth.
― Gautama Buddha, The Dhammapada [Verse 223]

* * *

“Get mad, then get over it. ”
― Colin Powell

* * *

“Poetry = Anger x Imagination”
― Sherman Alexie, One Stick Song

I wish that the last were true for me. As far as I am concerned Poetry = Misery x Imagination. That also explains why I no longer write poetry. Not miserable any more…