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Why the Best Entrepreneurs Are Fueled by This 1 Emotion

Passion matters–but not just any passion.

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BY Jeffrey Phillips - 13 Feb 2018

Why the Best Entrepreneurs Are Fueled by This 1 Emotion

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

Most entrepreneurs and innovators share a common trait--passion. You have to have passion, energy, and enthusiasm to see a new idea through to commercial success. But too many people focus on the wrong type of passion. You fall in love with an idea or solution. There's nothing wrong with that but it's not what creates success.

The best innovators leverage passion in a very different way. They see a problem that desperately needs solving--and they're angry and frustrated until they solve it.

So, while passion is vital, the type and depth of that passion and how you focus it matters tremendously. Here are three reasons why anger is a better driver for entrepreneurs:

1. Being angry or frustrated with existing inadequate solutions is something you can share with other people.

They have the same experiences, same frustrations. Tesla had so much early success not because people fell in love with their cars (though they did), but because everyone had such frustration with the fact that most electric cars looked like model kits and drove like something from the soap box derby. When people have shared experiences they communicate more effectively and build intentional or unintentional communities. When you or I fall in love with a technology or solution, well, as they say, love is in the eyes of the beholder. People don't necessarily share their love of something, but they will definitely share their frustration and anger, which leads to broader understanding of both a need and a solution.

2. Anger is a better driver for innovators because it sustains.

People fall in and out of love with people and technologies all the time. Love is capricious. On the other hand, Hollywood makes millions telling stories about people who are driven by nothing but anger, who dedicate their whole lives to righting wrongs. I'm speculating here but I suspect that Jobs got frustrated with trying to manage digital files and music and used his frustration with MP3 players, Napster, and the recording industry to incorporate iTunes into the Apple devices. Love is fleeting, but frustration remains.

3. Anger is focused.

When a problem exists that really bothers you, and you decide to solve the problem, your aperture shrinks. Other opportunities simply aren't as attractive anymore. Solving the one problem that frustrates you or makes you angry becomes your focus. In contrast, you can be in love with another person, chocolate, puppies, a technology, and three or four other things simultaneously, and they all demand attention. Anger is more easily focused, and that anger is more likely to lead you to success than love of a technology.

Disagree Without Being Disagreeable.

Now, I don't want to suggest that you have to be angry all the time in order to innovate. In the South, where I'm from, we have a saying that people can disagree without being disagreeable. Likewise, you should be able to innovate, focused on issues or needs that make you angry or frustrated, without being angry at the world. Use the anger to fuel your innovation, to focus your work, and use your optimism to fuel the success of your new product or service.

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