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Letter to my daughter: get angry to get ahead

There are endless “secrets” that gurus will sell you, but the truth is that passion means nothing without a little bit of fire lit under you.

small business woman

small business woman

Dear daughter,

Like many young ladies in high school, you have a strong head on your shoulders, and you have this amazing blend of book smarts and street smarts and your empathy levels are off the charts. You’re well poised to be an amazing leader when you enter the business world, and while we wish we could take total credit for your readiness, we can’t.

That said, there are some things no one has told you yet. They’re not secrets, but they’re not common sense, and they’re simply learned through repeated experience. But I am writing this to you with hope that we can offer you some shortcuts so you don’t have to fail as many times as your previous generation did.

A dirty truth that even most adults don’t realize is that you can be the smartest person in the room, the best dressed, the highest paid, the hardest worker, the most strategic mind, but you may still fall short of being an inspirational leader. Most people will tell you that without passion, you’re going nowhere, that it is the secret ingredient. And that’s partially true.

You see, you can be so filled with passion that you’re about to burst. You can desire to change the world and with your company, you want to solve some major problem and make people’s lives dramatically better. But like many leaders, that won’t happen. You’ll clock in and clock out, you’ll read inspirational books to get you all riled up, and you’ll go to seminars to fine tune your leadership or marketing skills, but you’ll still far short of your goal to change the world.

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Because you weren’t pissed off. When you’re filled to the brim with passion, even with hard work, you may not be lit enough. Think about it. When do you run faster? When your opponent is on your tail and you’re angry that you’re about to lose, so you kick it into high gear. When do you do your chores with more gusto and thoroughness than ever? When you’re pissed that you have to do them, so you scrub dramatically and get it done. When do you work harder than ever on a school project? When you are angry, having just found out that you just need a few more points to pull that B up to an A. Get it?

You can spin your wheels all you want in life, and you can take endless seminars and be an amazing leader, but you’re not going to change the world without a little bit of anger. Some people internalize anger and turn it into a negative and allow problems to blossom, but you are capable of so much more. You want to be a psychologist and help people? Remember that anger you felt when you watched a documentary about a mental health facility or heck, even a prison.

Don’t just read your books and regurgitate facts, tap into anger to light your fire, because most people never figure that out. Ever. But you will, and we can’t wait to see you take off in whatever career you choose!

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Lani is the COO and News Director at The American Genius, has co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH, Austin Digital Jobs, Remote Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.



  1. Lani Dame

    June 4, 2013 at 9:58 pm

    Love this post. This is exactly what I’ve been trying to verbalize to a friend. Find what motivates you, convert it into something positive and take action. Get angry!

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