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Put Your Rage on the Back Burner


Folks are fuming. But rage-busters—reasons to let go of anger—are everywhere

Remember the inauguration? It was just sixty-some days ago. The economy was in trouble. People were scared. But for one brief and shining moment—maybe even two—virtually everyone seemed to believe some sort of great and necessary reinvention lay ahead.

People felt hope.

Today, they're feeling rage.

Who knows exactly why that awful transition occurred; the possibilities are endless, given recent events. Bottomless bailouts. Acrimonious hearings. Staggering layoffs. Control systems failed. Leaders in business and government made mistakes. And too many decent people are paying the price.

But without question, the AIG (AIG) bonus imbroglio was a tipping point. Suddenly, a lot of people went from wanting change to wanting revenge.

Understandable—perhaps. And yet it's crazy to think the most profound economic and cultural upheaval of our times will end well if we let ourselves marinate in rage. Rage begets only rage: It often makes people do stupid, shortsighted things that invariably spawn unintended consequences.

Rage isn't healing. It's polarizing.

Which is why we all have to fight to keep hope alive right now, replacing our rage with an increased and renewed focus on the good and absolutely certain things—the rage-busters, if you will—that are all around us.

What You Can Be Sure About

Take, for instance, the fact that right now, as you read this, there are hundreds if not thousands of geeky, brilliant engineering wonks sitting in their dorm rooms at MIT and Stanford, not to mention campuses around the world, oblivious to the weather as they pour their hearts into cool new ideas.

Those kids and their ideas are the future of business, if we just hang on tight.

You can be sure, too, that legions of people out there aren't frightened by the economy. They're called entrepreneurs. And challenges don't make them surrender; they make them fierce.

Or consider that right now, in companies large and small, new and old, teams of employees are huddled in meetings, working their butts off to figure out how to save their organizations—and the jobs of their coworkers.

And you can be sure that in laboratories around the world, medical researchers are putting in 18-hour days as they try to unlock the human genome and create cures beyond imagining. Most of them, and maybe all of them, are motivated by a heartfelt desire to save lives. You can be sure that one day you, or someone you love, will owe them a debt of gratitude.

You can be sure—O.K., pretty sure—that in three weeks, Tiger Woods is going to do something superhuman at the Masters and the world will collectively gasp in wonder and in joy that he's back.

You can be sure that soon after, on a warm spring day, a mother and father will hold back tears as they watch the first member of their family graduate from college. You can be sure countless other parents will feel that same pride.

Heroes Will Emerge

You can be sure that for every jerk who undermines business with his compromised ethics there are 99 decent, hard-working people who wake up every day determined to do right.

You can be sure the 99 will prevail.

You can be sure that out of the morass on Capitol Hill, a hero of nonpartisan leadership will emerge, and we will all be reminded of what true public service looks like.

You can be sure there will be more than one hero at the end of this.

You can be sure that this summer there will be a new song on the radio that is so catchy and fun you can't get it out of your head.

You can be sure that someday in the not-too-distant future we will look back on this difficult time and say: "It was painful, but we pushed hard and learned so much that we've lowered the chances of it ever happening again."

You can be completely and absolutely sure that the first hotdog you eat at the ballpark on Opening Day is going to be as good as it gets, and the second one won't be bad either.

And finally, you can be sure that we've touched on only a fraction of the rage-busters that should be on this list.

Just ask yourself for more.

Jack and Suzy Welch look forward to your questions. You can e-mail them and view their new website at www.welchway.com For their podcast, go to www.businessweek.com/search/podcasting.htm.

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