In Action, Beliefs, Leaders

“Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement.  Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.” – Helen Keller

In our current world, it seems like most people’s default setting is “angry”.  Whether you’re talking about politics or sports or even the weather, it can feel like people are looking for reasons to be upset.  Quite often it’s because people are convinced that someone else is treating them unfairly, or cheating the system, or is simply evil.  And all of those things make people mad.

The same thing extends to business.  I have conversations with leaders and it’s hard not to let the conversation turn into some kind of an angry rant.  Maybe it’s about customers, or vendors, or – maybe most often – employees.  So many leaders seem to be convinced that everything and everyone is aligned against them and they’re going to fight back.

Maybe everything and everyone is aligned against you, but probably not.  Even if the whole world is purposefully trying to mess up your plans, anger is generally not the best response.  I’ve seen leaders make some pretty bad decisions because they’ve gotten angry and let that anger get the better of them.

The conversation over the past two weeks in this space has been about positive energy and being focused on what we can do as opposed to what we can’t (you can go back and read those thoughts here and here).  Not allowing your anger or frustration to get the better of you fits that same thread.

There isn’t anything morally wrong about being angry, or feeling like something’s not fair.  Feelings are part of being human, and there aren’t any that are wrong or incorrect.  The problem is when we allow ourselves to get and stay angry, and dwell on that anger.  Being angry might be a short-term energy boost, but over time it will wear you down.

How do you look at the environment in which you live?  Are you looking for what’s good in people or ideas or situations?  Or are you convinced that everything and everyone is terrible, and you have to be ready to fight back?

I’m not suggesting that nothing is ever going against you, or that it’s impossible that anyone is treating you poorly.  What I’m suggesting is that even when those things are true, you cannot successfully respond over the long term if your response is about being angry.  You have to figure out a way to be positive about people and situations.

Think about yourself as a leader.  Think about your perspective on your organization, and the world in which it operates.  Are you constantly upset?  Are you always angry and frustrated and feeling like you’re being treated poorly?  Or are you always looking for opportunities, positive possibilities that could lead to success?


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