Have you noticed lately, how mad everyone is? Angry, hurt, frustrated and vocal. Anger that ranges from casually inconvenienced to visceral rage, from all strata of society, throughout much of the Western world. I cannot speak to the East, because I don’t hear so much from the second and third world, it certainly seems though, that the privilege of first world habitation brings with it a desire or inclination to be whipped into a frenzy.
‘Road Rage’. Literally anger at THE ROAD. “HOW DARE YOU NOT DO THE 20km/hr OVER THE SPEED LIMIT THAT I WOULD LIKE TO DO RIGHT NOW…. GET OUT OF THE WAY!!!! ARGHHHHH”
‘Race Rage’. Exaggerating differences and the impact of these differences, causing various pockets of us and them. The Us invariably being denied opportunity due to the ever-present spectre of Them.
How so many people can reconcile in their heads that the problems caused in an entire country can be attributed to the smallest percentage, lowest socio-economic groups is beyond me, but it is certainly easy to whip people into a rage about it.
This anger has somehow lead to a shift in leadership across the world. In the Philippines death squads have killed thousands of people without trial, while allowing the President unprecedented approval ratings from an enraged population. In the United States, a President who lives in a GOLD TOWER somehow was elected on a platform that he understands the needs and lives of every day (angry) Americans. They are rallying around Confederate and Nazi flags and literally CARRYING BURNING TORCHES! In Great Britain voters approved a Brexit scheme that had no real details, and are now staring down the barrel of economic uncertainty off the back of voters that believed a small minority of immigrants were the reason they were denied personal opportunities and falling behind economically. In Australia, people are mad. I don’t actually even know what for. Mad at renewable energy, mad at incarcerated minors, mad at boats filled with desperate asylum seekers, as though a boat with 20 people on it will cause the economic destruction of our entire way of life. Mad at same sex marriage, mad at politicians with dual citizenship, mad at renewable energy and coal. It seems like people are angry wherever they possibly can be.
Politicians speak about where we are, and why that’s terrible. About the ‘mess they have been left with’, deflecting anger to people and parties that have long since lost their power. Encouraging people to rage at the past, as though that somehow improves the present, or absolves them of the responsibility of how things are now not how they were.
Newspaper headlines have rage inducing headlines splashed across them every day.
SOMEONE DID SOMETHING.
A PERSON SAID SOMETHING.
PEOPLE WHO LOOK DIFFERENT TO YOU DID SOMETHING THAT YOU WOULDN’T DO.
BE SCARED OF THIS THING.
BE MAD AT THIS OTHER THING.
It’s not that we are simply being incited to rage, we have our rage and our anxieties pointed down all the time. Pointed at people we don’t know, pointed at things we don’t understand, pointed at people who are down the chain from us. The upper class rage at the middle class, the middle class rage at the lower middle class, the lower middle class rage at the lower class, everyone rages at the unemployed, uneducated, freshy emigrated, incarcerated and disadvantaged.
Surely these unknown elements are the source of all our problems…. Or maybe they aren’t.
When I was a teenager, we were warned about Asians. Vietnamese Gangs. Cambodian Gangs. Truth be told, as a teen I was chased by some of these gangs, brandishing knives, samurai swords, trolley poles (the handles from shopping carts)… Alongside the Vietnamese and Cambodian immigrant kids there were as many Caucasian kids in the gangs too. In fact, in the case of almost every gang ever, you can just refer to them as ‘Disenfranchised teenagers, who lack support, vision and encouragement, building their self-esteem and self-worth through a community of similarly difficult teens’.
Nowadays I couldn’t pin all the problems we face in society on Vietnamese… Their cuisine is too delicious, I can get it on Uber eats and Menulog for Gods sake! Most of us know a Vietnamese person and can vouch that ‘they’re ok’. The same goes for the Greeks and Italians that we all know and love. It’s hard to be mad at Italian immigrants when I look forward to the next opportunity to be fed to the point of bursting by my mates Nonna. There was a time though when they too bore the brunt of a country’s anger and spite.
How many of us know Sudanese kids? APEX is the gang du jour. The newest and most significant threat to our safety and way of life. Just like the Vietnamese, the Italians and the Chinese were at some point in time. How many of us know Muslims? They make up less than 2% of the population, but somehow they are ruining the very fabric of our society? Those newest to our country? Not the entrenched, the powerful and wealthy, the people who make decisions that decide whether we have access to welfare, healthcare and infrastructure?
Why do we allow these views and opinions to proliferate our social fabric?
Perhaps it is because people are blinded by anger, and enlightened by truth. Blind people are easier to lead, more inclined to give up their autonomy of direction.
One seeks the truth, making them harder to lead. If you are seeking, then by definition you must have some control over where you go looking. Being angry requires nothing more than just your own internal dissatisfaction. I don’t need facts to know I am angry about something, I just know that I feel mad about it.
Anger allows you to shift responsibility to the person or situation that ‘made you mad’. Never mind your choice to allow yourself to be enraged by things that make little logical sense, or that have no real impact on your life or even basis in fact. You can be mad. Didn’t get the job you wanted? Be mad at the person who got it.
Didn’t leave enough time to get where you were going? Be mad at traffic.
Can’t afford a house, or earn enough in your job? Get mad at refugees, who are obviously the reason housing prices have inflated astronomically in the past 30 years, even though the ones you are mad at they have only been arriving in the last 15 years.
Being mad at each other advances nothing, solves nothing and puts blinkers on society to the real things that oppress us. Looking down at the very small and the few things we do not understand prevents us from seeing the great problems that lie above us. Seek the truth, and look for reasons to help and solve problems rather than reasons to be mad.
With your eyes open, you will be harder to lead astray. I am no conspiracy theorist, but look to the actions of those in charge, look beyond the words and fear mongering. Look beyond the headlines and labels given to things we do not understand. The more you know, the harder you are to trick, just like the more you appreciate, the harder it is to be enraged.
Make an effort to understand. Make an effort to appreciate. Make an effort to Just Be Nice. It’s not easy, but it’s the only way to create extraordinary positive change.
Congratulations and encouragement. Two positive nouns no doubt, but are they being used appropriately in this current age of ‘start-ups’, 'intent' and declarations of purpose?
Congratulations; words expressing one's praise for an achievement or good wishes on a special occasion.
Encouragement; the action of giving someone support, confidence, or hope.
Too often we are congratulating people for starting something rather than encouraging them. Too often we save our congratulations for people who are the most visible, the loudest or standing at the front of the line rather than those who have had their noses to the grindstone getting things done.
What could be wrong with congratulating people for starting things you might ask? Good question, let’s look at what congratulating someone implies.
Firstly, it implies an achievement, and frankly, simply starting something is not really an achievement. I could, in the next couple of days start 10 new businesses, 12 books, 15 marathons and 28 training sessions in the gym. I can guarantee you that none of those would be worth congratulating me for, especially if I have only started them.
It would be worth encouraging me, however, letting me know that pulling out the notepad and pen is a fantastic way to start writing a book. That getting into the gym is a great way to start getting into better shape and that you have to start a marathon in order to possibly finish it. The congratulations however need to be saved for the end, or at the very least, for some progress that can be reviewed.
Congratulations imply a special occasion. By congratulating ‘start-ups’, ‘starting-up’ and ‘grand declarations of intention’, we are implying that they are special occasions. Again, the truth is that the start of something only becomes a special occasion upon its completion. Mentioning that I am starting a marathon is not a special occasion, the start of a marathon becomes special by virtue of the work that follows. At the end of the marathon, having finished and achieved a complete outcome, the start, middle and end all become significant. By starting and pulling out 300m into the race, there is nothing to congratulate, there has been no special occasion.
Championing starting takes away from those who work hardest. It dims the light of the finishers. We fund Start-ups rather than Keep-goings, we congratulate massive statements of intention, rather than consistent execution of simpler outcomes. We invest in what we can say is going to happen, rather than invest in things that are happening. We look to what people would like to achieve, rather than look to how people will achieve it.
Focusing on starting up, and considering it something worth congratulating has given rise to a culture of the ‘elevator pitch’, the ‘tell me what you want to do in a minute or less’, the ‘explain what you’re doing in 50 words’.
When you focus on the start, you no longer need to explain all the things that are about to happen in order to achieve a goal, rather you simply focus on the outcome you haven’t achieved yet. Time and time again we are being forced to simplify the process at the beginning, so that people can better understand what is hopefully about to happen.
Elevator pitches are better utilised for the end. It is very simple to get a shorter pitch to understand what has already happened, because outcomes are easier to explain than processes.
Congratulate – “I lost 20kgs.”
Don’t congratulate “I would like to lose 20kgs”, Encourage them.
Encouragement acknowledges an impending process, or period of work, effort and output. Congratulations implies that the work has already been done. Congratulating Usain Bolt at the starting line of the 100m would be silly. Understanding all the elements that will go into Usain Bolt telling you that he will be the fastest runner in the history of mankind will also take a lot of time and effort, across many years. Congratulating him for finishing in the fastest time anyone has ever seen, that makes sense, fits into a small elevator pitch and can be communicated simply as “I am the fastest man that ever lived.”
If you are going to encourage people we intrinsically know that simply saying “I’ll lose weight” is not enough. Saying “I’ll be an Olympic Sprinter” is not enough. It needs to be backed up with effort, and that effort needs to be targeted, measured and repeated over and over again. This effort is what we need to encourage.
Encouraging sits and listens to longer presentations. Congratulations wants bite sized chunks of simple information that is outcome focused rather than process focused. In my line of work its seeing organisations simply say things like “We want to end poverty”, “We want to end homelessness”, “We want to cure all the diseases known to mankind”. We cannot congratulate these statements, we can only encourage them. If we are to encourage them, we must know what the processes are that these organisations are going through to achieve these lofty goals.
When you break down encouragement into a process based discussion, you open up the door to understanding how someone is going to go about achieving or finishing their outcomes. Lose 20kgs is not necessarily a simple process, it involves many factors and will require multiple revisions and tweaks along the way. ‘Ending Poverty’ is even more complicated!
Encouragement is necessary, Congratulations should be reserved for accomplishment. To encourage well, we need to take the time to understand the processes that people need to achieve their goals. To congratulate well, we need to take the time to hold people accountable to outcomes. Over time, we can change from a culture that applauds starting, to one that applauds consistency and outcomes. Look for the people that are doing, not just saying, and give them a shout-out. Congratulate them on their achievements to date, encourage them to continue to achieve, and as always, Just Be Nice.
Josh Reid Jones - Founder of The Just Be Nice Project and Odin Sports