Great Leaders Are Great Haters
Maybe hate isn’t such a bad thing, after all. I believe love is stronger than hate. However, hate and love are dynamically connected.
Tuesday’s conversation with Claire Diaz-Ortize, Twitter’s Head of Social Innovation and Philanthropy, made me think about negative versus positive motivation. Are leaders motivated by things they don’t want or things they want.
Hatred of pain, inefficiency, ugliness, unmet needs, and unsolved problems drives leaders to positive action. Leaders love solving problems but first they hate problems.
Fear and pain usually produce stronger emotion than assurance and pleasure. Ask anyone to talk about things they hate or love and hate produces more heat than love.
For example, start thinking of all the people who’ve been good to you and think of one person who’s done you wrong. You’re encouraged and thankful for all the goodness and fired up by the wrongness. Right?
Embrace your hate:
Go ahead! Hate inefficiency, loss, poverty, stagnation, waste, backstabbing, fear, and laying people off.
I absolutely hate stagnation and anything that might lead to it. I spent too much time spinning my wheels. I love forward focus and movement. When I see stagnation I tense up and stop breathing. When I see progress, I breathe again.
The positive from a negative message:
Don’t get stuck in hate. Use negatives to produces positives. Work through hatred to love. Go ahead and hate that you were passed over. Just move through it.
I’m not comfortable posting this article. It feels upside down. In my own life, however, accepting things I don’t want helps me reach for things I want.
Leaders are haters that love solving things they hate.
What do you think? Is this upside down?
Has hating something motivated you to do something positive?
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If nothing else, it’s a catchy title…
Actually, I completely agree. Optimism is always lifted as a Holy Grail for leaders, yet there must be an element of passionate pessimism for a leader to create meaningful change.
“Passionate pessimism” — exactly! One thing you learn fast when Uncle Sam sends you to one of those places the cruise ships pass by is that there are problems you can’t deal with by going to your happy place.
Still prefer ‘pragmatic optimist’. Accept the reality and then change it for the better.
I prefer your term Doc, “pragmatic optimist” it gives more to work with than the other which I fully understand but is just personally for me, my cup of tea.
obviously I meant not my cup of tea. This topic is too important to leave anything to chance. Sorry for the hiccoug. 🙂
Love your expression – passionate pessimism and hey, a catchy title can’t hurt.
Wow – am I uncomfortable with this post! (but in a good way).
You’re poking at a truth and that can cause discomfort…
Thanks for your “upside down” post, and causing me to examine things from underneath. Whew.
I’m uncomfortable too. I’m also interested in what others have to say. cheers
I’m with you completely but I need to clearly state a key distinction that I know you share: Never hate people. Hate dysfunctions. Hate negative behaviors. But we should take the high road even with hateful people. So no, not upside down. It’s our hatred of the bad things we see that push us out of our comfort zones.
One of my personal hates: injustice, especially for the powerless. At work I tend to fight for the workers on the plant floor whose voice is never heard in the board room. At home I always taught (right or wrong) that the older, stronger child has an obligation to the weaker. And it’s why I served in the military — I remember vividly a mission to protect an engineering unit that built a road through the jungle in Honduras, and villagers whose lives were completely changed by access to markets. The government saw no reason to help those folks, so the US Army did it just to get the training.
Hating injustice feels completely different than loving justice, although they’re opposite sides of the same coin. Loving justice makes me think; hating injustice makes me act.
I like your distinction, but would suggest that even hating “things” does not serve us as well as seeking to understand why we hate, and then as soon as possible, turning our attention to what we *can* influence, what we appreciate and how we can leverage that appreciation towards the improvements and expansions we’re looking for.
Try this experiment: take something you customarily say you hate, and re-phrase the thought. For example, “I hate laying people off!”
I’ll work that one.
I hate laying people off!
Not everyone I job eliminate is sorry about it.
In fact, I’ve heard from several folks I’ve job eliminated that they have found work the better suits them.
I remember that letter from Jim Stuart telling me it was the best thing that ever happened to him; that he was unhappy and afraid to make a change, but now he is happier than he’s ever been.
I guess not all layoffs are bad.
I guess what I really love is when the business is doing super well, and all employees are engaged and generally happy.
So it’s not so much that I hate layoffs, but that I love a business that is prospering, with employees that are prospering, too.
Now we compare our feelings as we express the two thoughts:
“I hate layoffs!”
“I’m going to enjoy working with others to develop a business that is prospering, with engaged employees that are prospering too, so that layoffs are few and employees feel empowered to communicate freely, and to even leave the business if that is where their improvement and expansion takes them, and I wish the best for all employees, past and present.”
I don’t see why I ought to spend one SECOND longer than my awareness tells me I’m hating, in hate of *anything*. 🙂
I’m going to think about what you’re saying, but I honestly have to say that I’m not completely sold. I think there are things in life that we have to hate. The examples I would give are pretty grim and wouldn’t add to this conversation for most; they are real though, personal experiences, so it’s not just an abstract question.
I guess the key distiction is whether or not your world-view acknowledges the reality of evil or not. Mine does – I’ve seen it.
Bottom line, though: I admire your attitude and can tell it works for you, because you’re very passionate and convincing. So I hope you’re right and I’m wrong.
Greg, I hear you. Those things that are supremely ugly or terribly hurtful to us… that is where we are tested to our limits, and that is where it is difficult to see any alternative to hate, or striking back.
I don’t have an easy answer for that, nor do I believe there is one. It is easy to discuss in abstraction, but I believe that the path out of traumatic experience, or a pessimistic worldview, or the impact of the world’s ugliness, is very personal, and often very difficult. But I have great faith in our capacity, both individually, and as a race, to move beyond hate and despair.
As for evil? A friend of mine once said that there is no “dark switch” in the universe. There is light, and the absence of light. Evil then, to me, is the absence of light. Hate, anger, and other emotions feel so awful because they are telling us: you’ve moved out of the light, and you really want to get back in the direction of it!” We all see the results of those who instead, move further into darkness.
With quantum physics, metaphysics and the spiritual realms, I think the jury may still be out whether or not there is a ‘dark switch’, particularly as it relates to evil and probably as it relates to matter. I don’t see it as an absence of light, if that can be seen. Hate, to me, has an essence as love does too. Both engender the spectrum of feelings and often subsequent actions as you noted. Okay, already too far down the rabbit hole, someone toss me a line…;)
Hate is a disconnection from self and spirit. Hate is, “This isn’t meeting my expectation, and I feel powerless in this moment.” Hate is “I want to love you, but this thing you do is standing in the way—and I again, I feel powerless to change it.” Hate is a distortion of love. The distortion comes from putting our own qualifications and limitations on love. In other words, we aren’t allowing a flow of love or good will, because of thoughts, beliefs, conditions, or we aren’t seeing how whatever we hate is serving others, and perhaps even serving us.
Hate is a message: “Here’s my opportunity to examine my thinking on this. Here’s my opportunity to examine my feelings on this, and allow those feelings to uncover beliefs and thoughts that possibly aren’t working for me or others. Here is a situation I can’t control, but I *can* control my thoughts, beliefs, attitude.”
Hate is never productive, unless it leads to the introspection, and healing it is meant to lead us to (the only things that can truly alleviate hate).
Go ahead and hate? I’d say go ahead and follow hate to it’s message, and the message is: you are not in a good place; you are not in a productive, creative place; you are not in a loving place; you are not in a powerful place; you are not in a place that’s connected with spirit—find your way back.
Interesting: when I am in a place of highest self-appreciation, and appreciation of others, I don’t dip into hate. I might see the opportunity—just as I might notice a turn on the road—but I seem to pass right by that turn, and move quickly to seeing the good, or where I can do some good.
All the best, Dan…
I love it when you get fired up. I definitely don’t hate it.
Some of your comment seems to say the same thing I’m saying and other parts seem to contradict.
The working through to a positive orientation feels like alignment. Rejecting hate altogether contradiction. Hope I’m understanding your thoughts…
In the end, this post like many others are simply my own experiences, reactions, and thoughts. Admittedly, this one is a pretty big topic to hit in 300 words or less.
My ultimate goal for today’s post was exploring my own feelings and attitudes, laying them out there, and seeing how others think about this topic.
I’m thankful you joined in today.
Haha… yes, got a bit fired up, LOL.
The part I agree with is that rather than fighting hate, we can use it to move us (as quickly as possible) to improvement/expansion. We do this by reading hate as a signal. I also believe, as you do, that love and hate are connected.
The part I disagree with is that we ought to “embrace hate” as if in itself, it is generative. I don’t believe it is. I believe it is actually calling us to move out of it to a more connected, generative place. In other words, I don’t agree that hate is something to cultivate or encourage—not ever. To read as a signal, yes, to invite or embrace, never.
I treat pessimism the same way—read it, yes, take it in stride and listen to the message, yes. Embrace and or cultivate? Never.
Optimism? I think blind optimism is not true optimism, but is a backdoor form of mild hate (as in “I hate this discomfort, so I will pretend it isn’t there). But TRUE OPTIMISM (“This is uncomfortable, but I believe we will prevail, because we are talented, creative, powerful, loving, etc.”) is ALWAYS more powerful than pessimism (how far would Edison have gone if after trying three filaments he started telling himself, passionately, “This is uncomfortable and I’m sure we will never succeed in inventing incandescent light”?
I also believe in taking care characterizing hate as motivation, because while it may seem so, action that springs off of hate is often reflexive and destructive, while if we follow our emotions just a little ways out of hate, to dissatisfaction or frustration, we start to see more clearly what we might WANT, and can then, by choosing what we want, now come within striking distance of real inspiration. We spark a desire, and instead of focusing on what we don’t want, focus on what we do, so now we can work our way up to “hopeful” or even “joyful.” Hope this makes sense. 🙂
Lastly, I believe that if we take uncomfortable situations with an attitude of “what is here for me; how is this helping me own my thoughts/choices and hone my preferences and future choices” we may never have to get to hate.
In other words, if we use discomfort to hone our preferences and choices, and even learn to appreciate it for what it sparks in terms of awareness and change in our lives, it may help us align with passionate preferences and purpose, so that we are just as motivated by moving toward something, as we thought we were being repelled by something else… and feeling a whole lot better about it.
Hope this makes sense. 🙂
I don’t like the word hate but I think that you point about working from negatives to positives is important. If you are dissatisfied about something, it is most likely because you have a vision about what should be instead. By working toward your vision instead of against your dissatisfaction will usually get you to a solution faster and calmer.
I don’t like the word hate either… seems funny to say that. I hate the word hate….
Nicely said about working toward your vision instead of against your dissatisfaction…
it’s hard to walk a fine line between damaging hate and motivation-producing hate, I find. I have to really guard my heart against hate that just makes me sink into bitterness that’s poison to the soul. I find that hate comes when its directed towards a person. However, I totally agree that hate for something unjust or an attitude or behaviour can whirl me into action. Instead of complaining, it pushes me to be a change agent. Thanks for the reminder that hate can be a powerful motivator and to embrace it!
Hearing my own words back… “hate can be a powerful motivator” is definitely uncomfortable. All the evil hatred that has destroyed so many comes to mine. Thanks for the reminder that hate and bitterness are close relatives and we definitely don’t want to go there.
This post reminded me of a speaker I saw once (can’t remember her name) who talked about the value of fighting — and then drew a distinction between “fighting with” and “fighting for.” Fighting *with* someone, she said, is almost always unproductive and soul-destroying. But fighting *for* someone can be good, powerful, and right. We should fight *for* those who are being hurt or abused, and fight *for* the preservation of good organizations, teams, and endeavors in the face of things that might hinder or destroy them. I think this does require some amount of “hatred” — or maybe righteous anger — toward the abusers and destroyers. But if we keep the focus on fighting FOR, not WITH, I think it keeps us from getting mired in pointless resentment and toxic hatred.
I don’t think this is upside down; it is honest.
“Has hating something motivated you to do something positive?”
I like the way this question is phrased. It would be a cushy life just to keep savoring the pursuit of the positive, but I think it is somewhat universal to be pushed to action by the discomfort of hatred (of things, inefficient processes, or conditions like poverty). I suppose a challenge I face personally in turning hatred into positivity is in communicating the urgency I feel. I recently made a fairly public declaration about an issue faced by my office that, while it was correct and accurate and did have the potential to increase efficiency, left some hurt feelings in its wake because my coworkers who had direct responsibility for the issue felt I had leapfrogged protocol by addressing the issue with the vendor directly rather than through “channels.” Come to think of it, sometimes I hate channels. 🙂
This is definitely an interesting post.
You re-engaged me. I have been so busy that I haven’t been reading your posts for a while, but this one drew me back.
For a long time I thought that anger was a creative force. Then I recognize that I just remained angry all the time. What actually I thought was a creative force was actually eating me alive!
Although I would agree with you that a passionate anger towards something can help us create, move forward and become more generative, I would probably be very careful in the long run. This is where I, at least, became consumed in the anger and hatred.
Instead, what I have personally found is to focus on the problem for a while, recognize the problem that makes you angry or hate (hopefully it’s not a person), and then focus on how to lovingly reconcile it in a creative way because hatred is not a generative force in a of itself.
What a rich discussion! I want to respond to everything, but I have to dash off to a meeting.
One of the things I learned in my coach training is that “What you can’t be with will tend to run your life.” Can’t be with boredom? That will run you activity. Can’t be with conflict? That will run you to avoidance. Can’t be with injustice? That will tend to run you to fighting for change. Can’t be with fear? That may run you to risk-avoidance.
When we take the time to process what we really can’t be with and learn to be able to be with it, to really get in and explore it, we can be strengthened by it and move into places we never dreamed were possible.
So, as others have said, turn what you “hate,” (I’m not a fan of the word) into action. But hate things/systems/actions, not people.
Years ago, Beverly Harrison wrote an essay called “The Power of Anger in the Work of Love” about the constructive power of righteous anger – at injustice, intolerance, oppression, etc. – has to propel us forward into the work of making the world a place that is more loving, just, and whole. Very powerful work.
I see your point-you can’t have one without the other, and hate does seem to run hotter at times, but I’m reading Tony Hsieh’s book, “Delivering Happiness”, right now (story of Zappos) so I guess I’m in a different space, longing for a little weirdness and fun in the workplace. But that’s a whole other story. My point is that I imagine that if “Zappos” hated stagnation, they would decide to embrace a passion for moving forward, and the passion would translate better to Zappos’ employees because they would not experience “fear” as a result of their leadership’s “hate” I’m thinking that as a leader, it is not necessarily what motivates you best, but what motivates your team best. Great post-really enjoyed reading the comments
Hate is a strong motivator – negatively and positively.
Negatively – 9/11 is a case in point.
Positively – N number of inventions and examples are available to make the point that your hate is strong enough to produce something that helps you (and many a times helps mankind!).
I’m going to respectfully challenge your proposition a bit here. I’m going to suggest that if you scratched a bit deeper, you’d find that nothing positive came of the hate itself. I’ll venture that the positive came out of a need to feel BETTER than hate. Hate was the indicator “where,” then choices were made to get OUT of that space of hate.
Now some will go and want to kill the thing they hate, to eliminate it, to feel better. Some will want to legislate against hateful things ever occurring again, to feel better. Some will want to invent things to prevent their hateful thing from ever showing up in their reality again. Some will create new ways of fighting hateful things. Some will change themselves, so that they perceive differently, and create in loving ways that take them to places where hate is scarce if existent at all.
My sense is that in most, if not all cases, hate is a symptom of dissociation from power and freedom, and choices are then made, however misguided or loving, to regain power and freedom.
As an aside, but perhaps worth mentioning here: all rules are based on fear. And many fear based rules are spun of hate. Not all fear is a bad thing, but all rules are based on it, and often fear and rules are restrictive to freedom and creativity. I’ve seen hate spawn regulation so that a company screws down things so tight based on one hateful incident, that there is no more freedom or empowerment for employees, and innovation is history.
I’ll wrap this up by noting that in my experience, everything changes when I do. 🙂
Just to summarize a few key points about my position on hate:
I don’t think it’s beneficial to judge hate as bad or good.
I don’t think we ought to practice it as a strategy or embrace it.
I think we ought to read it as a traffic signal or weather instrument: it will tell us something about what’s going on with us or where we’re going.
Then we make choices in a loving, expansive direction, to free ourselves, and add value to our lives and the lives of others.
Wow, this is one healthy discussion. I clearly see two camps those that feel that hate can motivate and those that feel that hate should not exist in the vernacular of leadership. I am standing on my head as I make this comment. 🙂 I tend to fall into the latter camp. I have never found any form of hate to be productive. Hate drives energy out of your soul and yes it may motivate you to action but in my opinion for the wrong reasons and it is a deceptive allure to feel ever positive when a good result originated from a negative karma. Using hate as a source of strength is never rewarding, never sustainable and most certainly never enjoyable so why harbor it. One can adjust the lens all day long but love, passion, compassion and empathy are just too important to fuss over something whose very existence is self-defeating. Life is ephemeral enough to waste a single millisecond attempting to find any value in using hate for any form of outcome. If we eradicated it altogether from our contemplation it would cease to exist and the world would be a better place. There is no room for hate of any kind in my being and in my heart.
Wrong Dan wrong. I dont agree with you REAL LEADERS LOVES HUMAN. Looks always big picture. Every bad thinks and good thinks. Take care 🙂 Think again.
Leaders are haters, I agree. They hate the things that they do not like. They also hate the things, that hinders their progress. They hate the things that do not believe in. I think hating is good because it clearly shows that this is not going to work, so you need to look for other options. More you hate, more focused you are, I think. However, hating as a habit create rigidity, and rigidity hinders progress and thought process. So, when hate becomes rigid, it also blinds leaders.
YES, Hating has always motivated me to do positive. I hate dishonest, unethical, lazy and backstabber. IT always provide me a sense of honesty and authenticity that I have better and superior than others irrespective of personal achievement of power, position or material gains. I always try to keep my principles and belief above everything in my life. This has become habit in my life and I always see that that habit has actually enhanced and increased my happiness and pride in my life.
Hm… the people I see who have the best results are often passionate objectors. Can be tough work.
On the other hand good enough solutions from the past sometimes come back with problems. Perhaps you cannot escape your sins – or perhaps these are opportunities to put things right 8^).
How do you find the right balance?