Building More: Don’t Take The Easy Way Out

Words: Corey Adams

Corey Adams

I had an interesting exchange with my 12-year-old son recently. He wanted to drink a Sprite before a workout, and I told him no; he should have water. Sounds like an easy enough tiff between the typical father and son, but his response was less than acceptable. He responded with anger. 

Now, I could have jumped right back down his throat, but I know that isn't going to help me get my point across. I allowed him to vent, then asked him calmly if he felt any better after saying mean things. That made him pause and reflect. It wasn't about the Sprite or water; it was about his response to a situation that didn't go his way. I then went on to explain that anger is never the answer.

Anger is the easiest of emotions to muster up in adverse situations. It is human nature for anger to be the first response. It is our fight-or-flight mentality. The problem is anger has never solved any problem in the best possible way. 

About 15 years ago, we had an employee that got angry on a job site. We weren't asking him to do anything that anyone else wasn't doing, and he just decided that day to let his anger control him. As you all know, on a job site, when one employee gets angry, it can lead to others responding with more anger. That is exactly what happened. Our foreman began giving it right back. 

Luckily, I was on site that day and watched the entire situation unfold. As soon as the foreman began his anger-filled response, I stepped in. "We are about done today, so just go ahead and take off early and meet at the office tomorrow morning at the regular time." It would not have done any of us any good to allow the confrontation to continue or allow the employee to stay on-site with anger as his driving force. I sent him home. I did it thoughtfully, politely, and respectfully toward everyone involved. 

The next day to no surprise, no employee. A no-call/no-show. He effectively quit. No big deal; that happens in our industry. 

We all deal with situations that we feel are not working out for us. It may be supply issues, employee issues, client issues, or any multitude of issues that arise in the day-to-day construction life. We, as owners or leaders, must not take the easy way out and let anger be our response. 

It takes practice and self-discipline to overcome the initial anger reaction. Hell, I still have moments where I want to scream and berate someone. Just because I think I want to, or feel I want to, doesn't mean I should. Anger is not the best emotion for business or life. Take a breath and dive into your rational brain to solve the issue. 

Another perspective I have told my sons over the years is that anger is never due to outside circumstances. If you are mad, you are mad at yourself for some reason. Maybe you are upset that you put yourself in an unfavorable position, maybe you are upset for trusting the wrong person, or maybe you're just upset because you know that you didn't work hard enough to avoid the situation. I have found that when I am angry, most of the time, it is due to my own shortcomings and not due to someone or something from the outside. The outside is just the trigger. The real anger grows from within. 

Anger is natural. It is easy to jump right to anger. Anger lives in all of us. How we use that anger is what defines us as people and leaders. If our anger is directed outward, we tend to blame others, botch relationships, and often sink into mental pity parties for ourselves. None of this is productive for the situation, our business, or ourselves. Directing our anger inward is what makes good people great. Just look at the most dominant athletes in any sport. It drives them to greatness.

Most of us were told growing up to not take the easy way out. Work hard, get better, and keep progressing. Anger is the easy way out emotionally. When a situation arises, and you start to feel the initial anger response, take a breath. Are we trying to really solve the underlying problem, or are we just taking the easy way out? 

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