Posted on August 5, 2020 · Posted in Blog, General, Memo Plus Gold, Personal

One of the most important meta-skills for becoming good at anything is being able to push through the frustration barrier. This is the early phase of skill acquisition where you suck at it. The skill is not fun, because you have not reached the level of proficiency where you can actually enjoy it.

A perfect example is learning a foreign language. When you started learning French, the process was difficult. Speaking French was not enjoyable. You had difficulty understanding simple things and the effort was not rewarding.


The frustration barrier does not just make learning more difficult; it also cuts you off from new life experiences. When you face the barrier repeatedly in one area of skill, you may confess to yourself that you are simply not born with the talents necessary to be successful in that area.

In your life, an interesting consequence of this could be in dancing. When you were younger, you were a bit clumsy and introverted. Therefore, you never tried dancing, and when you did you were lousy at it. You had just accepted that you might not possess the gene for uninhibited party enjoyment.

But, being the optimist that you are, you signed up for dancing classes one day. After a brief introduction, you found out that you actually liked to dance. To the point where you loved going to nightclubs and dancing.

That is a simple example, but you think many people get in their head a false belief that, “I’m not born with the talents to do ____” simply because they never invested the initial effort to overcome the frustration barrier in that area of their life.


You later discovered that most people can become good at almost anything (not necessarily spectacular, but good). The key is mastering that meta-skill of overcoming the frustration barrier. Once you defeat the early part of skill acquisition where learning is painful, you can start reaching the part where mastery and hard focus feel good.

You do not believe there is one grand key to overcoming the frustration barrier. But you do believe there are many heuristics you can use to help yourself push through this difficult phase.

As always, practice is important. If you practice running headlong into the frustration barrier, it is easier to do it again. Once you have mastered the meta-skill of frustration barrier ascension, any new skill is comparatively easier to acquire.

Here are some heuristics for overcoming this initial phase:-

Admit You Suck.

Let go of the ego. When you just flatly admit you are not very good, you stop trying to protect your self-image and appear qualified.

This may go against the traditional confidence hypothesis, until you understand that the goal is not performance. It is to embrace your awfulness and use that embrace to keep you going despite your missteps.

Surround Yourself with People Who Have Done It

You need to believe it is possible. The only way to do that is to be immersed in people who have succeeded in the path you are now going through.

Not only will their great ideas for success rub off on you, you will be able to face the frustration barrier knowing that, at one point, it will get easier.

Study the Mastery Process

You should invest a non-trivial amount of time into understanding how to master your chosen skill. When you do research two things happen:

  1. You expose yourself to great ideas for improvement which shorten the time to mastery.
  2. You gain confidence in the process of mastery, making it less likely you will give up out of frustration.

Enjoy Being Awful

You will admit that it is easier to enjoy things you are good at. However, just like you can have fun on a cloudy day, you can have fun being lousy at a skill as well. Fun is mostly about creative perception, so if you learn to enjoy the intensity of the challenge you are under, you can surmount the frustration barrier.

Commit to Mandatory Practice

Sometimes the best way to beat the frustration barrier is just through discipline. If you commit to practicing for a certain amount of time, every day, you can eventually defeat the beast. You have done this for numerous fledgling skills where your internal resistance would otherwise defeat your desire to become good at it.

Below are some practical tips to overcome your frustration and get results what you want.

  • Problems Are Not Lasting: Despite the frustration, if you continue to push yourself, you are going to find you get through things quite quickly. Frustration is not a permanent state of being, the key is to ignore it and keep moving, and soon you will find that you accomplished your goal and that is the best feeling.
  • Do Not Compare With Others: You might start to compare yourself with someone who started to learn a new skill at the same time as you did, and you see that that person has picked up that skill faster than you, and you get frustrated thinking that you cannot do it. Just think of it the other way, everyone has different pace of learning and understanding things, they might have their level of frustrations but you are so different and you need not compare yourself with others. What all you have to do is be happy with your own progress.
  • Find Alternatives: Most of the time there are so many different ways of doing things, what all you need to do is try finding a different way to do it. For instance, if you have been working on something, such as writing a book; just start a new book and you will find a way to finish your first book after a while. The key is do, not stop. There is no shame in using an alternative way to get the results you want after you have been struggling with a situation for an extended period of time.
  • Learn to Love the Process: Always remember that life is about the journey, not the end result. The next time you decide to learn something new, do not get so caught up in the idea of being a success and mastering whatever skill you want to develop. Instead focus on each stage and love the learning. This takes the self-inflicted pressure off you, reducing the amount of frustration you experience in the journey towards your goal achievement.
  • Consistency:When you are trying to develop a new habit, consistency is more significant than quantity. Have you noticed that when we skip a routine activity even once, for example, missing your bus and then taking a cab to reach to your destination, or waking up at 5am in the morning, and once you skip it and wake up at 7am and still manage to do your work, it will be harder to get back into it? And the more we skip, the easier it is to skip it again the next time. Before we know it, we no longer have the habit which we have worked hard to create.
  • Fun Ingredient: Find ways to make the learning and experience fun and enjoyable. For example, you can listen to music when you are on a mission to reduce your body weight through gymnastic exercises. This added enrichment to your gymnasium experience, makes you look forward to the activity.

As usual, we remind you to take your Memo Plus Gold daily. It will help to keep you alert and mentally sharp.Natural memory enhancer