Anger as Motivation

Anger as Motivation by Dr. Robert Gerwig

Photo by Author

The fish looked amazing! … We were walking along the beach in Bohol and passed by this small fish vendor selling fresh fish. Once you selected what you wanted to eat, they grilled it to order right by your table – about 30 feet from the water. Pretty cool! While I was admiring the fish, trying to decide what I wanted to eat, and take a picture, I was distracted by a couple yelling! He was red-faced (really RED) and she looked … well, she looked like a character who stepped out of a horror-movie and onto the beach. They both looked wildly out of place standing on the beach.

Anger. Is it wrong to be angry? All the time? What about “righteous” anger? Can anything good come out of anger?

In some ways, I wish I had a picture of the angry couple to post for this article. You would really have gotten a sense of their situation (on the surface anyway). You would have seen bulging veins, red cheeks, teeth (fangs?), etc. Both were definitely out of control and both were causing a scene. It was kinda funny, kinda embarrassing, and kinda entertaining – all at the same time!

I recently read that men tend to angry more easily than women (is THAT a surprise to anyone?). You probably have heard about links between anger and health – blood pressure, stress, headaches, etc. Makes sense to me. People who are excessively angry do NOT give a healthy appearance. Many look like they’re going to “pop” from their tension, pressure, and stress.

What I’m talking about is not OUT OF CONTROL anger, but CONTROLLED anger. You know, when someone says something about your weight and it helps motivate you to lose 10 pounds ‘cause you got angry. Or someone said you would never graduate from college, so you finished with honors and went to grad school because you were motivated.

What I’ve noticed is that when I get angry, as long as I control it, I get a lot (a LOT) accomplished in a short period of time. It’s not sustainable, but can be effective.

A few quick examples:

  1. Saw some malnourished kids, I got angry at their circumstances and it motivated me to give money and spend time on water/food related projects,
  2. Received feedback that I could never manage chemical facilities because I wasn’t a chemical engineer – the anger motivated me to “prove them wrong” (which I did), and
  3. Witnessed a man picking on a “kid” in line at the movie theater, got angry, challenged the man to step outside or leave the “kid” alone – he left the “kid” alone.

You could probably think of scores of cases where anger motivated you to do something good. On the flip side, you’ve undoubtedly had times where your anger got out of control.

What I’m suggesting is to control your anger, harness it, and let it be used to accomplish something positive. Other emotions motivate. Hope. Fear. Love. Yet anger has its place as a motivator.

When I look back, I realize some of my anger was the result of pride, some the result of doubt, some the result of immaturity – yet some was justified and harnessed/controlled in a manner that provided fuel for change, for improvement, for growth.

Do you get angry? Do you control and focus that anger to achieve positive results?

As always, the floor is open to your comments, suggestions, thoughts, and feedback.

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