Don’t Get Mad. Get Curious

July 26, 2022

Hey everyone,

Are you unhappy at work?

Are you frustrated by things moving too slowly? 

Or, by the inability of senior leaders to make decisions?

Or, by any number of other issues?

Then, be an anthropologist.

That’s what I told a CG member – we’ll call him Andy – who had just taken a senior role at a fintech (one of the few doing well).

He complained to me that decision-making was too slow, new product development was hampered, and he was getting frustrated.

Of course, if a company can’t build great products sustainably, then they’ll eventually go out of business. 

In the meantime, if you think your company has the potential to do better, then become a student of the business and work to understand how the company makes decisions and how that’s evolved over time.

And, I told Andy, if he wants to play Positive Politics (which we had previously discussed), then he had to get *closer* to the company. 

Frustration creates distance.

The solution is to let go. 

Let go of the emotions fueled by self-righteousness and indignity. 

Instead, practice caring and not caring, as I wrote about recently. 

Move in closer. Be curious and loving.

I’m happy to say that Andy agreed and metaphorically donned his anthropological gown.

Several weeks later, he texted me and shared that he was already seeing and understanding so much more. 

Further, he had begun to formulate hypotheses for how to help this well-run but slowing-down company do better – hypotheses grounded in a more nuanced understanding of the company and its culture.

That’s what I’m talking about.

Don’t get mad. 

Don’t get frustrated.

Get closer.

Get curious.


P.S. We’ll be playing a second round of Positive Politics at the Council meetings in La Jolla in the fall.  We’ll focus on the Caring/Not Caring theme and this notion of getting curious and closer rather than frustrated and further away.

About the Author

Phyl Terry

Phyl Terry, Founder and CEO of Collaborative Gain, Inc., launched the company’s flagship leadership program – The Councils – in 2002 with a fellow group of Internet pioneers from Amazon, Google, and others. Thousands of leaders from the Internet world have come together in the last 15 years to learn the art of asking for help and to support each other to build better, more customer-centric products, services, and companies.

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