Monday, March 29, 2010

Don't worry, be angry

Grrr, angry! My group/sensei/art isn't doing what I want it to do!

I see people in my arts who get angry, and instead of using that fire to make things better, it goes nowhere and things get worse. Instead of trying to fix things, they either expect it to fix itself or let the anger turn to indifference and disappointment.

Unless you're one of the rare few saints, you'll probably get angry at some point(s) while involved in your art. Nothing wrong with that. Being angry means you care, which means you have passion. But can you channel that passion into something useful?

I see what happens when people don't. In one case, a black belt I know just gave up. To him, the lower belts weren't good enough, weren't doing what he was doing at their rank, etc. It's not that he felt they should all be like him, but he wanted more than they were giving. It's very obvious how disappointed he is when he's observing a class from his body language alone. It affects the students (they can see him react) as well as his own mood. And it helps no one.

In taiko, I see people wanting change but unwilling to do much about it. Sometimes it's an issue that has no easy answer or is a delicate situation, but often it's not that complicated. It's easy to complain to others about what *should* be, but maybe it's the Japanese/Japanese-American culture that prevents people from actively confronting the issue bothering them. But without addressing, communicating, dealing with the issue that's making you mad, it's going to fester. That's the path to burnout and bitterness, and I personally believe it affects how you interact/play with the rest of the group.

So what do you do with that anger? There's never going to be one "right" answer. For my first example, in the dojo, I've purposefully made sure I never do what he did. When I see groups slacking off, I choose to try and talk to them, to let them know I know they can do better and they should expect more from themselves. I'm not a "pep talk" kind of guy but everytime a few of them "get it", it helps the others.

At any given time, there's something I'm ranting about. So for my second example, I learned that people were less likely to listen if I was just complaining than if I had an alternative solution. So now I spend a lot of that energy figuring out a better way - a better plan, a better drill, etc.

Even if you are trying to make things better utilizing that passion, it will only make it worse if it's not working and you get more and more frustrated. So when those doesn't work or it's not something you have the power to fix, try turning to composition and self-improvement, making something work for you.

Most of us recognize when we're angry, but too often it's labeled as a "bad" feeling and suppressed. It's like taking a hot potato out of the oven and holding on to it. Might as well eat it - and while you're at it, prepare it to your liking!

1 comment:

  1. Sangen/Taiko PlayerApril 4, 2010 at 2:54 PM

    Very relevant to my taiko group where I see a lot of talk about how things should be behind closed doors, but come group meetings none can come up with a applicable solution.