Seize the Positive Power of Your Rage and Dive In
Years ago, a friend of mine was so enraged by political machinations at work that she did something rash: she went out and bought the film rights to a book she'd been reading. She says herself that she hadn't thought it through and didn't have a plan; she was just so fed up with the way her company treated her that she struck a blow for freedom. Her own.
This story is more common than many people realize. I've interviewed hundreds of women business owners and they frequently tell a similar story: sitting in a board room, or at a management meeting, or on another corporate retreat, they get so fed up with being ignored, or with bureaucracy, or with the self-importance of those around them that they just quit. Their only serious thought at the time: there just has to be a better way to live and work.
Rage Pushes You In
This kind of rage is very powerful because it gets them over their biggest obstacle: their own anxiety. Every entrepreneur recognizes it: that moment you're on the very edge of the pool, you want to dive in but you know that--at least at first--it's going to be cold and unpleasant and so you stand there wanting to jump but somehow never making a move. It's easy to stay frozen in the moment. Rage pushes you in.
I know. These days everyone is supposed to be wonderfully calm and mindful and reflective, but sometimes that zen-like peace just won't get you where you need to go. Rage can bring great clarity and focus. I'm not recommending it as a lifestyle but in short bursts, it offers tremendous energy. Many entrepreneurs feel this positive rage when they encounter the word "no," as in: "No you can't do it that way," "You can't do something differently," "No you can't invent a better wheel." Rage is a driver and an illuminator and a force to be reckoned with.
Forget About Keeping Your Cool
But, of course, how you express the rage matters a lot. The internal monologue that runs like, "I'll show them that there is a better way, that I can do it," is fantastic. The external monologue that argues, "I'm the greatest," is perhaps not ever wildly persuasive.
As for my friend, well, she left for France this weekend, where she'll start shooting the movie of the book she optioned. It has a stellar team, a great cast, and a fabulous vibe. She isn't angry any more; she's free of office politics and on a wonderful adventure that would never have started if she had kept her cool.
Margaret Heffernan is an entrepreneur and author. She has been chief executive of InfoMation Corporation, ZineZone Corporation, and iCAST Corporation. In 2014, she published her fourth book, A Bigger Prize: How We Can Do Better Than the Competition.