Get Angry And Win

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Ted Williams, one of the greatest baseball hitters in history, once said: “There’s only one way to become a hitter. Go up to the plate and get mad. Get mad at yourself and mad at the pitcher.”
That may sound like a strange way to approach hitting a baseball. After all, aren’t we all taught that anger is a dangerous emotion that should be avoided? Aren’t you supposed to control your emotions to succeed in life? Angry people make rash decisions, don’t listen to their better judgment, say and do things they regret later.
That’s true for a certain kind of anger, what could be called “destructive anger”. There’s another kind of anger, though – what the writer Paul Fussell calls “productive anger”. This is when we funnel our anger into activity that helps us achieve a goal. Fussell, who fought in World War II, would probably say that productive anger against their enemy is what kept many soldiers alive when they were captured and put in prison camps. Productive anger is like a fire that is concentrated, controlled, and put to good use, like in a wood-burning stove. The element that can destroy thousands of acres of forest in a wildfire can provide heat and light for a home, just the way anger can wreak destruction or help us achieve great victories.
Here are some tips for using anger productively.
. Make sure you really are angry, and not just being spiteful. There are lots of times when we get angry during the day, and most times the anger is fueled by spite. “That guy cut in front of me in line, so I’m going to get him back,” is a common scenario. This is not productive anger, though, it’s just one-upmanship.
. Will some good come of your anger? This is probably the key test. Letting yourself get angry just to blow off steam has its time and place, but productive anger means using your anger to achieve something positive. If you throw a temper tantrum and all you’re doing is creating stress and throwing around a lot of four-letter words and demeaning people close you, no good can come of that.
. Keep your motives pure. If you’re using your anger to elevate yourself at the expense of others, that’s destructive. If your anger is fueling vengeance, that’s also destructive. Examine your motives for getting angry. Are you serving a higher good? Jesus’s anger at the moneychangers in the temple is an example of righteous anger, something that serves a higher good.
. Control your anger. This may seem like a hard thing to do, but as the Ted Williams quote shows, great athletes have been doing this for years. A great tennis player can use her anger to focus with laser-like intensity on beating her opponent. She plays with a controlled burn, not a wildfire. To be sure, you’ll never see a tennis champion letting her anger get so out of control that she leaps over the net and starts bashing her opponent with her racquet, but there are many champions who are so quietly angry that they shut out everything around them and focus on only one thing – beating their opponent into the ground, figuratively speaking.
Anger is a volatile emotion, and we should never let it get out of control. However, there are times when it’s actually a good thing to get angry about an injustice, an imbalance of power, or a barrier that seems insurmountable, to name a few examples. Using anger productively can help us to overcome obstacles and fuel success in many areas of our lives.
And even hit home runs.


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