Anger

I’m no raving lunatic. Don’t get me wrong. Especially in a professional setting I can hold it together. At some point though I can feel IT overtaking me. Once that happens I find it difficult to dial it back.

I don’t know when IT is going to happen. IT just happens. I wouldn’t say there is some special trigger. It can be anything. It can be an innocent comment that just hits me the wrong way.

Unfortunately at that moment I am prone to saying things that I regret. Then, after it’s all over, the guilt washes over me.

“Happiness and freedom begin with a clear understanding of one principle. Some things are within your control. And some things are not.” – Epictetus

How do I do better in the moment between stimulus and response? How do I stop anger from taking over me? Or how do I get better at controlling my anger and using it to my advantage?

Anger is an emotion like any other emotion. It is neither good nor bad. It can be unhealthy. It can also be unhealthy to hold it back and not express it. Anger has its place just like every other emotion.

“If someone succeeds in provoking you, realize that your mind is complicit in the provocation.” – Epictetus

On The Daily Stoic podcast, Ryan Holliday interviewed the author Robert Greene. One of the topics they discussed was harnessing your anger.

Ryan Holliday used the example of coaches who get angry to invigorate their team through a difficult time in a game or season. As a former coach I have seen this done very well, and I have seen it done very poorly.

Robert Greene discussed how whether it goes well or poorly depends on if the coach has self-control and self-awareness. Can they step back and analyze their anger? Can they use it strategically to get the results they are after?

He goes on to say that only those people, that can pause in the moment between stimulus and response to analyze their emotions, are able to get the results they want. Only those that can channel their anger productively after analyzing why they’re angry will get the results they are after.

I am by no means there yet. However this is one of the things that I am really working on. I am sure if you ask my family, friends, and colleagues they may say it is not going so well, but I am a work in progress.

I must be more cognizant of the space between stimulus and response. Not everything needs an immediate reaction. I need to take the time to analyze my anger to see if it is justified and then if it is use it productively.

52

As the person who is in charge of hiring for my district, I come across a lot of email addresses. A good portion of these email addresses have numbers in them. Every time I see an email with a number, it makes me wonder what’s the significance? I realize that some are just random numbers that were assigned when the person signed up for the account. However I think for a good portion of these people that number has some significance.

I am one of those people with a number in my email address. The number 52 is not a random number assigned when I signed up for my account. It is my jersey number from my days playing college football at Hampton Sydney College.

I know a lot of people will say, “Oh, he’s one of those guys, who can’t let go of past glory days.” True, but more important to me is the fact that this number reminds me every day all of the things that sports taught me growing up that I think are really important for the development of every generation of young men and women.

Sports taught me:

  • Failure – I probably lost more games than I won. Sports taught me that there is always another game, another season to prepare for. If you live inside your head for two long, perseverating on a loss, then you will end up losing next week.
  • Resilience – the old adage you can’t win them all is certainly true. So after a loss or a failure, what do you do? Well. You learn from your mistakes and keep going.
  • Grit – Angela Duckworth in her book of the same name, defines grit as passion and perseverance. It is so much easier to keep going when you love what you are doing. It also helps to have other passionate people around you for support.
  • Teamwork – No one achieves success in sports or life by themselves. We rely on our teammates to pick us up when we are down and vice versa.

Unfortunately due to our current situation, sports have been shut down. As educators we are trying to continue the learning the best we can, but the fields of play have gone silent. I would say that 50% of what I learned, that has made me successful, has been from sports. As we move forward to a new “normal,” let’s not forget the impact that sports have in young people’s lives in preparing them to be the leaders of the future. Let’s make sure that they can get back out on the field as soon as it is safe.