“Where’s your anger? Where’s your fuckin’ rage?”
The lyrics above are from a song called “After the Eulogy” by BoySetsFire. My friend Joffy (his real name is Jonathan) introduced me to the song during the fall of our freshman year of high school. Every morning we’d blare the song in his sister’s car–torturing her as she drove us to school. Joffy sat in the front seat and I sat directly behind him, and when the bridge hit we would scream the lyrics as I shook the shit out of his seat. As young idealists, we knew shredding was awesome and that the only bands worth listening to were pissed off about social injustice.
I’ve grown up since then. Don’t take that the wrong way; I still rock to my anti-establishment anthems (I love Lamb of God!). But I mix in a wider variety of melodies and harmonies–depending on the place and time. Without shame I’ll tell you that I like John Mayer and that Mumford and Sons are the bees knees.
But a part of me still looks around and wonders, where’s all the anger?
I’m not talking about self-destructive pissing and moaning. Take a walk around the block or sit an office for long enough and you’ll get more than your fill. I’m not talking about hate either. We also have plenty of that. But I’m talking about focused, positive self-correction; a determination to change something that we don’t like because it pisses us off. It seems, to me at least, that this drive for change has disappeared. And, just as unfortunately, intensity has gone with it.
A Slap in the Face
Coach John Gaglione and I conducted the first Supreme Strength seminar a few weeks ago on Long Island. Mike Ranfone, a great strength coach from Connecticut, was one of our guests. At one point Mike jumped in and helped me coach the deadlift station. I was instructing one of the attendees on how to hip hinge with a neutral spine when I heard Mike talking about how he approaches the bar to deadlift. I can’t remember what he said verbatim, but it sounded a lot like this:
‘You have to approach the bar angry–I know I do. It sets the tone for the lift. The deadlift is my worst lift, man, and it pisses me off! I don’t let it fuckin’ beat me; I walk up to the bar with malice, grab it hard and let it know that I’m there.’
I remember thinking, ‘Yes! That’s fucking perfect!’ And, yes, I did swear in my own head.
That’s the controlled anger and intensity that’s necessary to create positive change!
Sure, the goal is always to be happy. Happiness, though, is not a steady-state condition; there is an ebb and flow.
Happiness is the product of perspective and desire–an understanding of where you are currently and where you want to be. It’s knowing that we have to make changes to make progress, and being comfortable with making changes. But to make changes that lead to progress, and truly be happy, we have to breed a mindset of barely subdued hostility–there should always be a monster lurking beneath the surface.
A beast with a healthy perspective.
Ask Yourself Questions
To make progress, and awaken your monster, ask yourself questions. Here are the ones that I ask myself:
What do I need to change?
Why do I need to change it?
What happens if I don’t change it?
What happens if I do change it?
What does this mean to me? or Why does this bother me?
Why are you so handsome? (This is one I ask myself while I’m brushing my teeth in the morning, looking at the mirror.)
I snuck some humor in there, but, seriously, you need questions like these. You’ll determine what you need to change and why you need to do it. It doesn’t matter if it is resetting a deadlift goal or how you approach your career.
Most importantly, ask yourself what making a change will mean to you. This is the question that develops the intensity–the lurking monster–necessary to make the change. It’s the question that most helps us grow.
Awakening the Monster: A Useful Fiction
You may not be able to apply this tip outside of the gym–it may make you uncomfortable–but I’ll offer it anyway. It may prove useful in other situations.
Before I approach the bar for a big lift I hold an image in my head. I imagine that I’m opening the door to my house, and as I open the door, I see a stranger grabbing my mom as he raises his hand to slap her. In my head, I see the fear on my mom’s face as she looks in the stranger’s eyes. Then I let the anger build. I don’t imagine how I would respond to this situation; I truly let myself feel the emotion of being in the situation.
How angry would you feel if you walked in on this?
Take that anger and direct it toward something useful. Grab a bar and hoist some iron.
Questions and Intensity
The above visual is intense–I’ll grant you that. But so is pulling 500 pounds from the earth and dealing with life. If it is more than you care to picture, though, find another image that you can hold in your mind’s eye. It can’t be a comfortable image. Conjure something pushes you to react.
Breeding your culture of change and awakening your monster starts with asking questions. If you don’t know where to start, refer back to the BoySetsFire lyrics.
Where’s your anger? Where’s your fuckin’ rage?