If you’ve been in business for any length of time, you’ve had a rough go of it at one point or another.
Yeah, there are good months, but there are also months that absolutely suck. And I’d be doing all of you out there in Internetland a huge disservice if I didn’t talk about the messy parts of being an entrepreneur as much as the fantastic parts.
(And yes, being an entrepreneur does get messy. It’s not all sunshine & rainbows. It’s not all a basketful of kittens. Sometimes it’s storm clouds and malfunctioning laptops and empty coffee pots.)
Raise your hand if you’re familiar with any of these scenarios:
You haven’t seen your friends in weeks because you’ve been so busy hustling.
You’re working your ass off but it seems like nothing ever comes of anything, and there’s no point to your insane workload.
You take on projects knowing full well in advance that the client is going to be a full-blown nightmare because you need the money and you’re not sure you can find a better opportunity this month.
You keep looking for new opportunities, new ideas, and you find nothing that makes you feel excited.
You know you should be CREATING opportunities instead of LOOKING FOR them, but you’re so busy with meaningless administrative minutiae that you never have the time or mental bandwidth to imagine what that looks like.
You structure your days poorly. Meetings take up most of your days, and during the evenings you know you should be finishing that big client project or working on generating some sales, but you don’t have the energy for it so instead you turn on Netflix and watch reruns of The Office for 3 hours.
And then the next day you complain that you never have enough time.
Eventually, you start hating yourself because “dammit, I was doing so well before”.
You start hating yourself because you’ve forgotten what it feels like to be excited about work and confident in your abilities.
You start hating yourself because you no longer feel like the badass that everyone around you says you are.
You’ve been letting your business run you. It’s not working anymore, and you’ve had all you can take.
First, you were sad about it. And then you got angry.
I love anger. I believe it serves an important purpose, and it has a place in our lives and our businesses.
Anger tells us that something in our lives is…off. We get angry when we feel that a boundary has been violated, when we feel that we or someone we love has been wronged, or when we sense that there’s a social problem that needs to be resolved.
Anger is a useful emotion. Anger spurs us to act when words aren’t enough. Anger mobilizes us when complacency is dangerous. Anger motivates us to change the world.
I always say: “Better angry than sad.”
You know what sad people do?
Not a damn thing.
Sad people sit at home and worry about their bills and think about all the things they should’ve done but weren’t good enough or smart enough to do so they didn’t try.
Sad people start to doubt their qualifications and say they’re impostors and wonder if they’ll ever know what confidence feels like.
Sad people just sit there and take up space.
But angry people? Angry people get stuff done.
Angry people recognize that they aren’t getting what they want out of life.
Angry people recognize that things should not be this way.
Angry people recognize that they deserve more.
And angry people fight. for. what. they. want.
We all lose our momentum sometimes. And when you lose momentum, it’s easy to lose your way. To lose your sense of self. To lose sight of what you wanted and why you started this business to begin with.
When things aren’t going your way, it’s easy to feel like the business that you started to give you the freedom you crave…is actually a giant millstone that’s hanging around your neck.
That should make you angry, because you deserve so much more.
Anger is your subconscious mind telling you that you are not living up to your potential, that you are not doing the thing you were born to do.
Anger is your cue that things are not as they ought to be, and it is time for a change.
And anger is what will get you up off the couch so you can start doing the awesome things that will take you to the next level.
If things in your business aren’t going the way you want them to, I give you permission to get angry about it.
Just make sure you actually do something productive with all that anger. Because if you don’t, it’ll open its maw and swallow you whole.
(Also, doing something productive is kind of what anger is designed for. Psychology Today says that feeling angry is associated with a drop in cortisol, which means anger helps us prepare to tackle a challenge rather than avoiding it.)
People say that anger is a negative emotion. That’s wrong. Anger, on its own, is an emotion. Emotions are neither positive nor negative; they simply are.
What you DO with your anger determines whether it’s a good thing or a bad thing. Whether it helps you or hurts you. Whether it’s useful or not.
In other words: Anger is a tool. And you get to decide how you use it.
And yes, there is a place for anger in business. But there are good ways to use your anger in your business, and there are bad ways to use your anger in your business. When you can transform your anger into a positive outcome, you benefit from it.
In psychology, we call this sublimation. Sublimation is the process of transforming a socially unacceptable emotion or impulse into a healthier, more beneficial behaviour. Sublimation is what allows you to channel your anger into your business and see positive results.
Sublimation is how you make your anger work for you instead of against you.
What does that look like?
It looks like this:
Angry impulse: You want to cuss out a potential client in the middle of a sales call because they’re not ready to buy from you yet.
Making your anger work for you: Use your anger as motivation to revamp your sales process and start converting more leads sooner.
Angry impulse: You want to call your prospects idiots in your cold pitches because nobody ever listens to you.
Making your anger work for you: Getting mildly ticked off just as you’re about to start sending out cold pitches, because it’s scientifically proven that anger increases your adrenaline and results in a boost of confidence. As a result, you feel motivated to pitch and you feel capable of closing the deal with every pitch you send.
Angry impulse: You decide to yell at your team when they screw up, so they get angry and blow up at each other, and as a result your team completely falls apart.
Making your anger work for you: You make your team angry at their own sense of complacency and thereby unite them around a common goal of revolutionizing the industry, boosting profits, or finding a better way to work.
Anger is a weapon that is constantly begging for a target. And if you don’t give it a target, it’ll choose one all on its own – which may not be a good thing for you.
But when you can aim your anger straight at a goal and fire it into the brick walls that have been standing in your way?
Get ready to start seeing the changes you wanted.
What are you angry about? How are you going to use that anger to drive you, to fuel you, to sustain you? How are you using your anger to get the things you want? And most importantly: Do you control your anger, or does it control you?