“When you lose a parent young, it hardens you to life. Then you make a decision. Either you give in to it or you get back at it. Anger drove me to be ambitious. Anger-really constructive anger-is great,” said US actor Dylan McDermott in a USA Weekend interview, as he spoke of losing his mother when he was five years old.
I was reminded of coach Thomas Leonard’s coaching attraction principles, which include, “Accept and endorse your worst weakness by being grateful for how well it’s gotten you to THIS place in your life.”
Here is a 4 step process for befriending and leveraging your anger, fear, polarity or “weakness”:
- Recognize what your “worst weakness” or most challenging emotion is.
- Recognize where it has taken you.
- Give thanks for it.
- Then decide what, if anything you want to do with it.
McDermott steered his anger to drive his career. What would he have missed out on had he gone from step 1 to 4, and skipped the middle? When you follow this 4 step model, your perspective shifts; with better results. Note: I do not consider anger a weakness, but a natural emotion. How it is expressed, as I noted in my blog on bullying, can be problematic and costly. And I am totally opposed to politicians or media attempting to manipulate voters through inducing fear and anger (and the spread of misinformation).
Anger can be positively channeled for change via peaceful protests with greater good intentions. Anger is a natural part of grief, whether it’s grief over unexpected changes and way of life or grief over centuries of mistreatment. I worked at a Hospice pre-coaching career (over 22 years ago) and am experienced with grief.
Through my ongoing development as a coach and coaching supervisor, I am learning more about trauma informed work, both the “big T” of a childhood loss of a parent (and sometimes overlooked events such as surgeries, especially within the first three years of life, as my grandson has experienced) as well as “little t”, ongoing “relentless” stress, such as the pandemic and microaggressions.
Providing safety and trust as leaders and coaches during these complex, uncertain times is crucial, what I am known for, and led to an increase in my business during the pandemic that continues. I have learned some additional grounding strategies I am sharing with clients in addition to the centering and journaling I have already been practicing.
Awareness of and culturally appropriately managing emotions is a hallmark of EQ (and CQ, Cultural Intelligence, such as acknowledging and addressing microaggressions) as well as my coaching. Research shows that people with high Emotional Intelligence have greater mental health, exemplary job performance, and more potent leadership skills.
“After the assessment, we outlined specific goals for achievement (including communication). Not only did I improve in the targeted areas, but I also became clear about how my thinking patterns and emotions impacted my performance and productivity. Identifying emotions and appropriately using them productively was another benefit of our working together,” Joe Fitzgerald, (Director of Finance, Hills Pet Nutrition (Colgate) at the time of our coaching).
Fear is another emotion that is sometimes seen as a weakness or barrier to progress and can at times, like anger in McDermott’s example, serve you by keeping you from harm. I was faced with my own challenge of holding on/letting go of fear as I let go of (perceived) control while preparing for and experiencing my 3 month Asia Pacific journey in 2014 as well as my grandson’s three heart surgeries in recent years. It served me well in Bali by carrying a stick to fend off dogs roaming the streets. Not so helpful regarding flying on Air Malaysia after 2 crashes or riding a ferry after the Korean ferry accident.
Ready to discover how to make even your “weaknesses” work for you (and how to deal with others’!)? Contact me for an Unlock All Potential strategy session. I currently have availability to coach up to 3 more leaders or one more team.
A coach yourself? I invite you to consider our unique, exclusive Culturally Intelligent Mentor Coaching + Certificate Program
To our potential, prosperity and peace-we are in this together!
Marilyn O’Hearne, MSW, MCC, LLC
CQ Master Certified Coach, International Coach Federation
First published February 27, 2015 and updated
Your blog-post is a fascinating way to look at anger. Recently, my Entrepreneurial Leadership Mastermind Group looked at the role that anger plays in an entrepreneurial’s life. We found many traditional applications of the dangers of anger as a negative emotion that can drive us to unproductive places. However, we also discovered that anger can be channeled positively to take the temperature and raise the heat. The group seemed to agree that the key is to harness the emotion for its higher good instead of shying away from its existence. Your post helps me see that conversation from a different angle and better understand the discoveries that we made.
Thanks so much for your comments and loyal readership, Lawrence Andre. Congratulations on your group’s discovery about channeling emotions such as anger positively.
Just heard from a colleague,”Writer and activist Starhawk calls anger fueled self-certainty.”