Anger & Clarity

Yesterday, I experienced a real-time wake-up-call of how I don’t make the best decisions when I’m angry. I’m so focused on being livid, I fail to notice that other solutions are possible. I’m assuming I’m not the only one who has ever experienced this. And it led me to think about the frustrations of being an entrepreneur/start up CEO and how important it is to take the time to step-back and understand how you function when you’re pissed off.

Yesterday was actually a personal situation, but put in business terms I was dealing with an inept manufacturer and a distributer who was only willing to go by the book instead of doing what made sense. This resulted in about 5 lost hours of productivity while I sorted through the problem to reach a conclusion.

Here’s what happened:

  • I went to pick up two orders from a distributor who refused to release them because of faulty paperwork. I URGENTlY needed it that day so time was a real issue.
  • I had to wait to call the manufacturer who was not yet open. I sat and fumed at my desk until they were open. Then I called and was told I’d receive a call back in 30 minutes.  I continued to wallow in frustration for 60 more minutes without a call at which time I called again and was told I would receive a call back in 30 minutes.
  • This time they did call me back. I explained the problem and was told I would have to come in person (about a 20 minute drive). I did. I reviewed the paperwork (but probably not as carefully as I would of if I had not been irate) and angrily drove it back to the distributor.
  • I was then told that Order A was fine but Order B was missing one piece of information. Even though Order B was from the same manufacturer and had come in at the same time and was clearly just an oversight the distributor refused to release the product. At this point I was engulfed in rage. I went BACK TO THE MANUFACTURER AGAIN to get it corrected. They did and I eventually got my product, however, I lost about five hours of productivity.

Here’s what I could have done differently:

  • Exercised or meditated while waiting for the place to open or while waiting for them to call back. Or both. Even if the rest of the day played out exactly the same, this would have put me in a better place to deal with it and reduced my stress level.

Here’s what might have happened if my mind had not been clouded by anger:

  • I might have noticed the error in the paperwork on my FIRST trip to the manufacturer.
  • There was actually a way to solve the paperwork problem without the SECOND trip to the manufacturer. I just didn’t realize it until later in the day when I was calmer.

BTW – to my credit I didn’t yell at anyone. I just smiled and kept going until it was done. But in my mind, I was having a full on melt-down.

Realizing that I wasted my own time was what led to this post.

As the CEO of a start-up you are always putting things in place to meet the next goal. And you count on all your hard work to get you where you need to be and when. The app update has to push to the app store BEFORE the client meeting. The product needs to stop making that weird noise BEFORE the focus group.  The customer needs to pay us BEFORE the payroll goes out.

Except that the app gets flagged and the inverter was installed backwards and the customer won’t return our calls.

So now we have to look for solutions. And whatever we are working on comes to a screeching halt as we scramble to fix the thing that we thought we had already taken care of. But as we scramble in frustration, we may miss the more elegant solutions in favor of the obvious.

I know it’s hard, but for me, the next time I’m in this situation, I’m going to remind myself to take 30 minutes and clear my mind. Because when ANGRY is in the way the Good Answers don’t find their way to consciousness.

I’d love to hear in the comments if you’ve had similar experiences or if you have a practice of stepping away from anger before you make decisions or say something you’ll regret.

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