As a facilitator of leadership development programs, my work takes me to many organizations and I meet different people of all ages and backgrounds.What strikes me hard is the large number of people struggling with anger management and anger control. Consider this:
1. A motivation program for youth is going on and they are asked about what would they like to change about themselves...many young people talk about Anger.
2. A leadership program for AVPs is going on...these are successful people and topic being discussed is people management...suddenly a gentleman says "can you talk about anger, please...what do I do so that I don't lose it on my juniors."
3. At a social gathering, a friend mentioned to me that she is constantly bickering with her parents...something they say or do always seems to irritate her.
I see a pattern here.
1. People get angry. (Of course we all do!) 2. They don't like how they respond when they are angry (in an out-of-control way) probably because they see the negative impact on health, relationships and even careers.
We may have heard of a variety of anger management techniques like drinking a glass of water, taking deep breaths, counting back from 10 to 1 or even the ones in this video:
In my own experience, however, there are no quick fixes to anger. Anger control is like popping a pain medication - it undoubtedly gives temporary relief, but does not address the root cause. The only real solution is to unmask the anger, and understand what lies below it.
In my own struggle with anger, I have realized that Anger that causes outbursts is rarely about what it seems like on the surface and it is in fact rooted in much deeper beliefs of your subconscious mind, usually around fear.
For example, if I have a team member who is not performing at work and he triggers me off, here are some possible hidden fears:
1. How will my team member's bad performance reflect on me as a leader?
2. Will I be considered a failure?
3. What if people stop valuing me in my organization?
4. Will my job be under jeopardy?
These are the kind of fears that lie hidden behind the so-called-anger. It takes a very courageous heart to look within and acknowledge ones deepest personal fears, even to oneself. Once we identify our fears, we can ask ourselves some powerful questions such as:
Where is this way of thinking coming from? How does this fear link to my values and self worth? Why do I connect my worthiness to this? Whose definition of worthiness is it, anyway? The fears you find sitting under your anger tell you a lot about the pillars on which you have constructed your self image and based your worthiness.
If one reflects in this manner, one also lands on some conditioning and un-examined beliefs and values from childhood that one has been carrying inside and holds very dear. These have become our default mode of operating in this world over the years.
This interesting journey of self discovery initiates you to the riches of more conscious living and gives you freedom to discard beliefs that no longer hold true. Once you have deeply understood your past fears and released any suppressed anger or pain, you become free to embrace joy and peace. It is truly liberating!
Here is a link to one such experiential workshop that helps you discover and release patterns of thinking that are not serving you anymore.
Ultimately, any leadership journey begins with Self-Leadership. Let us begin now!
Joy & Abundance.