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Rogue Rage: Four Questions to Transform Anger into Innovation Opportunity

Every person and organization says they want to change, to innovate, to grow. In a fast-paced business environment, standing still might as well be moving backward. But what happens when every idea, every innovation, is met with apathy, defensiveness, or outright hostility from the corporate antibod

Phil McKinney
Phil McKinney
3 min read
anger rage frustration

Every person and organization says they want to change, to innovate, to grow. In a fast-paced business environment, standing still might as well be moving backward. But what happens when every idea, every innovation, is met with apathy, defensiveness, or outright hostility from the corporate antibodies? Low morale is quite often built on the remains of unresolved anger, frustration, and hurt feelings from the constant rejection of new ideas. And these feelings don't go away just because you've got a great new idea.

Chances are, if you're human and you have DNA, you've gotten angry once or twice. Anger is a fact of life, from minor annoyances to outrage. It's a genetic trait designed to help our species survive. When used correctly, anger can generate the drive and passion needed to survive danger, take corrective action, right wrongs, and basically stand up for truth, justice and…well, you know.

When every new idea is met with hostility from the corporate antibodies, be careful of the low morale that can set in.

Phil McKinney

The reason anger gets such a bad rap is that a little bit goes a long way. There's a delicate balance between healthy, justifiable anger and uncontrolled rage. The point where anger becomes unhealthy can sneak up on you, and it can be very hard to pull back once you've crossed that line.

We all know the dangers of uncontrolled or chronic anger – health problems, strains on relationships, even damage to our reputations. But how do you keep normal anger from getting out of control? More importantly, how do you channel that anger into positive action?

4 Questions To Control Your Anger

Here are a few questions you can ask yourself when that heat is rising under your collar and threatening to cause you to explode.

What can I do to diffuse the heat and get to the meat of my anger?

The best way to reach a solution is to think calmly and rationally about the problem. It's really tough to do this when you're shooting smoke from your ears. Before you can attack the problem, you are going to need to find a way to cool down and get your head straight.

There are many ways to defuse anger, according to the American Psychological Association. These include relaxation, cognitive restructuring, even humor.

What opportunity is this anger disguising?

It's so easy to experience anger simply as a negative thing. But when you look at it closely, anger quite often represents an opportunity to make an improvement in yourself or your organization. If you are noticing poor morale among peers and employees, take a moment to ask yourself if this anger is masking a hidden opportunity? Does employee restlessness mean they are ready to assume more responsibility? Does constant bickering with your personal or business partner indicate a chance to improve communication skills? With a bit of clear vision, you can escape the trap of negativity and leverage your anger into positive action.

Who can help me turn this anger into an opportunity?

Once you've figured out where this anger is leading, in terms of positive action, it's time to determine who is the best person or people for the job of implementing the change. You may or may not be the person who is best suited, even if it was your anger that triggered the revelation! Once you've let go of the anger to discover the opportunity beneath, you can use your best judgement to recruit the perfect people to help your plan bear fruit.

What actions do I need to take to leverage this anger?

The end of this journey is actually the beginning of another. You've worked through your anger, depersonalized it, and discovered the hidden opportunities. You've chosen your allies to help you see it through. Now it's time to take action. Before you set off on that journey, though, it's a good idea to have a plan in place. Use your experiences to create a plan of action that will not only address the symptoms of the problem but use that momentum to bring all players fully on board with the changes. This will give everyone a sense of ownership, which will prevent further outbreaks of anger and poor morale in the future.

It's not uncommon to experience anger, frustration, and discouragement in your day to day life. What is uncommon is going beyond the obvious to create opportunity from adversity.

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Phil McKinney is an innovator, podcaster, author, and speaker. He is the retired CTO of HP. Phil's book, Beyond The Obvious, shares his expertise and lessons learned on innovation and creativity.


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