We Must Stop Getting Upset with Others It Will Destroy Our Leadership
Too many leaders are shackled by this menace: constantly getting upset with others. I’ve been there myself. There was a season of my leadership when I would stay angry and upset. I would think, Why are they doing this after I told them not to? What’s wrong with them? These people are lazy or crazy.
But for me, there was a transformation in my thinking. Today, I want to share how I grew out of getting upset into understanding and helping others.
Getting upset is a waste of energy. There is no room for it in healthy leadership. Yet I am flabbergasted by its commonality.
Leaders who are easily angered, set off, or annoyed are rarely successful. But if you find you are often offended, irritated, or frustrated with people, you’re not alone. I used to feel justified to get angry with people. It was also emotionally exhausting and in no way an effective means to handle my relationships or my leadership.
Thankfully, those days are gone for me. And I’ll tell you, I have never felt more free. I am a much more effective leader and a much happier person.
The Four Agreements
A great place to begin if we want to grow in the area of emotions and relationships is The Four Agreements. In his profound book, Don Miguel Ruiz challenges us to make these four agreements with ourselves.
- Be impeccable with your words.
- Don’t take anything personally.
- Don’t make assumptions.
- Always do your best.
These simple yet powerful agreements guide us in how we should manage ourselves and our relationships—especially if we are in leadership.
For instance, don’t take anything personally? Nothing? What if it was a personal attack on us? The best place to be in life is to take nothing personally. Even personal attacks. Here is how I solve this challenge in my life. I view people as weak, not bad, but weak. So when I am personally attacked, I implement the necessary boundaries, keep my heart in a place of peace, and aim to think, This is a good person in a weak moment or state.
I encourage you to read this book and make these agreements with yourself. It has made a profound impact on me.
Anger Stems from Judgment
Getting angry or annoyed with others starts with a judgment we make in our mind about them. We must be cognizant of our thought life and guard ourselves in this area.
For example, medical doctors are trained to take charge and make swift decisions, often difficult ones. We must be confident and competent if we are to be effective. After all, people trust us with their lives. They count on us to make judgments about their health.
But if we are not careful, this confidence and great responsibility lends itself to feelings of superiority. And we may start feeling we are better than others, even assuming the right to judge people in other areas of life. Then we open ourselves up to becoming easily annoyed or angry with others. So early on in my professional journey, I had to work on this personally.
Along the way, I learned it is best not to live as the judge, but as the sojourner. If we are to become effective leaders and honorable people, we must know that we are all journeymen on the same road. We are all weak, wanting, seeking, searching for meaning, aching for security, wanting to feel capable and significant. We all want our lives to matter. We all make mistakes—sometimes big ones.
We are all human.
…including the person (or people) we get upset with. We all have glaring faults. Many times we just can’t see them. We are either incapable or unwilling.
Being upset with others assumes you and I are able to see the reality and even the motivation behind why people do what they do. But we can’t. So we issue judgments: he is lazy; she is promiscuous; he is pompous and narcissistic; she talks behind my back; he is rude. We think these things and sink to lower levels.
We become consumed with thoughts about how terrible other people are. Our emotions lead us. Our thought lives remain in the gutter. No profession is immune from leaders who indulge in these decadent and destructive thought patterns.
Don’t Judge Me
If you are familiar with Jesus’ teachings, you know He clearly said, “Don’t judge.“ The more we are able to apply this in our lives, the less we struggle with emotions of anger, frustration and offense.
Allow me to share with you this simple poem I wrote a few years ago as I reflected on our need not to judge as leaders.
If you’ve never been a teenage mother…don’t judge me.
If you’ve never been abused…don’t judge me.
If you weren’t there…don’t judge me.
If you’ve never seen what I’ve seen…don’t judge me.
If you’ve never been taught what I’ve been taught…don’t judge me.
If you’ve never walked where I’ve walked…don’t judge me.
If you did not have the parents I had…don’t judge me.
If you’ve never been me…don’t judge me.
You’ve never been me…so don’t judge me.
Healthy leaders honor others. Without exception.
May we move away from a life of judging which leads to being constantly upset with others, offended by others, and condemning of others. Rather, may we always seek to understand, encourage, and uplift.
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