While anger, irritation, frustration, and sadness are generally undesirable, they can be quite useful in uncovering the difference we need to make. Complaining is another clue to pay attention to—the stronger and more consistent the complaint, the greater the potential opportunity.
It’s easy to complain and criticize—to sit in the stands, drink beer, eat hot dogs, and curse at (I mean cheer for) players. You don’t have to take any hits, or worry about the cost of your mistakes, but you also never get to feel the immense satisfaction of scoring.
While some games are better left to elite athletes, most of us are unknowingly missing out on the games that are meant for us. When sitting in the stands and yelling is causing ulcers, anxiety, and sleepless nights, get on the field. Often the games we’re meant to play choose us, and anger, irritation, frustration, and sadness are our clues.
While listening to my friend Frank-the-farmer lament about the unethical farming practices of a few of his colleagues, I found myself wondering why Frank hasn’t found a way to package his knowledge and make a difference in his industry.
Angry and irritated with several people in his industry, Frank explained various reasons he doesn’t agree with the farming practices of his colleagues.
“One guy buys a bunch of cull meat in Maryland, and sells it as grass-fed beef in Virginia,” Frank said, disgusted by the unethical nature of such a move.
Having spent enough time with Frank on the farm, I knew that a cull is a female cow that can no longer give birth, rendering her a perfect candidate for the butcher, but I didn’t understand why such a practice irritated Frank.
“The meat is old, gamey, and typically sold to low-end restaurants locally. Disguising it as grass-fed gives the consumer the wrong impression of how grass-fed meat is supposed to taste,” Frank fired back at me.
“But female cows are 100% grass-fed,” Frank, “Don’t they spend their lives on the pastures, grazing?” I asked.
“Yes, but this practice makes it difficult for farmers who are doing grass-fed beef properly to compete. The quality of the meat is nowhere near the same, and the consumer doesn’t know any better.”
His argument made perfect sense, and I found myself armed with a whole new set of questions to ask a farmer before purchasing meat. That gift aside, I was concerned about Frank’s level of frustration. It’s excellent fuel for progress, but it can also become exhausting without action.
Throughout our conversation, I learned about the farmer who is exceedingly successful, but only because of his dog-and-pony show.
“He wears a beat up straw hat for his presentations and interviews, but the hat doesn’t have a single sweat stain on it,” Frank said, having clearly experienced the kind of sweat those hats see in the summer months. “And,” he added, “He was given three-hundred acres of land from his family—that’s not sustainable farming.”
He’s right. Most people who are interested in farming are not handed three hundred acres of land, but I wondered how the majority could benefit from the minority. More importantly, I wonder if Frank can see the various opportunities he has right in front of him to use his anger as fuel to both learn and educate.
No fan (irritated or excited) has ever scored a touchdown. It’s easy to sit in the stands and yell at the players, but it’s not going to move the ball down the field. Your supportive cheer may be the energy the players need to step up their game, but yelling profanity at your team never does any good.
Here’s the point: If you find yourself irritated or angry about what’s happening, get in the game and contribute what you can to get the ball going in the direction you care about.
Here’s to Your Greatness,
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