I think, as business owners, we're more susceptible to these fits of rage than most. After all, your business is personal. Everything from how your staff answers the phone to the quality of your product to the functionality of your website is a reflection of who you are, so when an employee does something that jeopardizes your business, it can be hard not to take it personally.
Managing emotions is something Grieg Clark, the founder of College Pro Painters, knows all about. I interviewed Clark shortly after he sold the student painting company he'd grown to 500 franchisees and asked him what he would have done differently if he could do it all over again. He said he wished he had not "ramped up so high on the highs and so low on the lows."
So next time you feel like having a Sheen-like temper tantrum, try one of these antidotes for the emotional highs and lows of company building:
1. Repeat this mantra
"It's never as good as it feels on the best days and never as bad as it seems on the worst." This is the mantra I learned from Clark, and one that I repeat when I need to moderate my mood swings. Entrepreneurship has a way of amplifying events, which can lead to a magnified reaction -- whether good or bad -- to things that happen.
2. Take a walk
Instead of slamming your fist on your desk, move around to use the energy your body is producing as a natural reaction to stress. I have a couple of routes I walk near my office building. Going for a walk releases the energy that comes with bad news. I try not to go back to the office until I feel as though the adrenaline has left my system -- that means the more frustrating the incident, the further I walk. Twice in the 11 years that I ran my last company, I actually walked all eight and a half miles home.
3. Help someone
It's said that the best way to stop feeling sorry for yourself is to help someone else. If you find yourself at an emotional ebb with your business, lend $25 to an entrepreneur in the developing world through kiva.org, which gives you the opportunity to read the stories of fledgling business owners and select one that resonates with you. Once you have picked an entrepreneur to back, you can lend as little as $25 to help him or her get a business off the ground. Seeing how little some people have to work with to get a business started can be a good reminder of how lucky you are.
4. Keep a gratitude journal
I know it sounds corny, but I actually keep a journal of things I'm grateful for. And like all things, there's an iPhone app for that ("The Gratitude Journal"). Jotting down a few things daily is a good way for me to keep business problems in perspective. The moment something bad happens and you feel yourself losing control, force yourself to write a list of things you're grateful for. You'll be amazed at how the process of writing can act as a balm for your flaring temper.
5. Recruit a ranting board
Consider finding someone outside of your company who can act as a sounding - or ranting - board. Someone you can simply complain to without being judged. A lot of business owners use their spouse as their default ranting board, but your spouse will tire of being the outlet for your toxicity. I recommend finding a business mentor or friend you can call on short notice for a good old-fashioned rant with no strings attached.
What do you do when you feel as though you're heading for a Charlie Sheen moment?
- Don't Try to Pitch Your Business Without One of These
- Want A-List Salespeople? Here's What to Look For
- 4 Reasons an MBA Is Bad for Entrepreneurs
- The One Interview Question You Need to Weed Out Rotten Apples
Follow him on Twitter @JohnWarrillow
Become a fan on Facebook