Overcoming the Frustration Barrier

When is the last time you went ballroom dancing, made a speech, learned a new language, took up karate or even cooked a new exotic food? When was the last time you did something out of your comfort zone?

The experience was probably frustrating, depending on the difficulty of the task and how far outside of your comfort zone it was. You may have felt insecure, uncomfortable or ridiculous. If the task was difficult you may have been frustrated at attempting to gain progress. Due to this feeling, chances are you rarely participate in events out of your comfort zone.

I am going to call this phenomenon the Frustration Barrier. This is the barrier that keeps you from trying new things and going out of your comfort zone. It is also the same feature that allows you to quit far too early when you don’t immediately “get it”.

The problem with the Frustration Barrier is that it is usually temporary. Once you break through the barrier, you can actually start enjoying the learning process and have some fun. More importantly, breaking through this barrier gives you access to a huge amount of personal growth that occurs whenever we do things that are out of our normal frame of mind.

If I have found one thing that separates successful people from unsuccessful people it is the ability to handle this barrier. Unsuccessful people give up on it too soon, successful people manage to break through the barrier and as a result can enjoy the process of learning new things and gaining the benefits that come with being skilled in that area. Also, these people are generally much more “developed” as human beings as they have had a much richer variety of experiences from which they can use in their life.

The reason I bring out the Frustration Barrier is that it reminds me a lot of a problem in game design known loosely as the entry barrier. The entry barrier is the problem that occurs in many games. Many hardcore games are designed for entertaining skilled and proficient players, therefore people who are new to the game or genre are generally frustrated when they are attempting to learn how to play the game. For those who aren’t literate on gaming terms, hardcore implies it was built for an audience of very experienced and skilled gamers and is usually complex and has nothing to do with the content of the game (no, not that, tsk tsk 😉 ).

The entry barrier in games is what makes learning a game difficult and only once you have past it will you actually enjoy the game. However, there are methods from game design that we can apply to reduce the entry barrier. As a result we can use these techniques to lower the Frustration Barrier of any task. If we can lower the Frustration Barrier, then we can make it far easier to learn and do new things.

One of the tools games use to lower the entry barrier is a tutorial level where the player is told how to play. This is similar to the frustration barrier. If you feel uncomfortable or frustrated learning how to dance or exercise, then simply get some instruction on the material. If you are starting your own business, why not read a lot of material on starting a business? You could also interview other entrepreneurs and ask them about their experiences.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *