Sabbatical Out Loud: Working on Vision and Anger

Our vision is actionable only if we share itIn the spirit of #WOLWeek – Working Out Loud Week – and feeling kicked in the butt inspired by the above quote from Simon Sinek, here are two things I’m working on.

1. My next job

The biggest project for my sabbatical is: figure out what work I want to do. I want a really clear vision that I can work towards and use as a touchstone. What will I truly enjoy doing? What can I feel connected to? What is important? What’s a good use of my time? Where and how can I use my gifts? How can I provide value? After bumping around with these questions for a while – reading online, reading books, talking to people, journaling, day dreaming – I’m finally seeing some themes that feel right to me. They include:

  • Relationship, connection, caring about people. My gift is to help people feel seen, valued, liked, and supported. This gift is also my drive. I can’t NOT do it.
  • “Delighting the customer” as a core business value.
  • Putting employees first as a core value – valuing, celebrating, supporting.
  • Humanizing work / the workplace / business. “Humanize” isn’t my favorite word. I was sad to read that “being human” is becoming a buzzphrase (i.e., stripped of impact), just like I was sad when authenticity, vulnerability, and transparency became buzzwords. But I suppose the good news is that more people are becoming interested in relationships, connection, and treating each other as people, not as robots or productivity resources.
  • Who says you can’t express love at work? OK, a lot of people have said that. But a shift has started. Here’s a whole list of companies that are making the shift.

I feel like I’m gathering ingredients for a stew, simmering them, stirring. I don’t know yet where these themes are leading or what the result will look like. Do I go work for a company, become a consultant, create something new? We’ll see!

2. Anger management

I’ve known for a long time that I have an anger pattern. (My poor mom and husband are nodding.) When the going gets tough, uncomfortable, scary, or frustrating, I get mad. This comes up in so many areas of my life, personal and professional. I get mad, and then fight-or-flight kicks in. I either come out swinging, or I have an urge to run away to avoid fighting. Geez, no wonder I’m so tired and grouchy so much of the time!

My trusty therapist told me that anger is a cover-up for other feelings. When I get mad, I can use it as a signal to stop and check: What am I really feeling underneath? With that awareness, how do I want to proceed? I’m going to experiment with using TAGteach to shift the anger pattern and create a different behavior.

  • Current behavior: Get triggered, get mad, stay mad, and react from there.
  • Desired behavior: I want to be calm, curious, relaxed, and open.

I haven’t created tag points for myself before. I wonder if this will work. A tag point is the desired behavior. “Don’t get triggered” or “don’t get mad” are not good behavior change goals, and they aren’t tag points. Triggered and mad are gonna happen. I think my tag point is “relax”. Notice myself feeling angry, choose relaxation. (And then click / reward / treat. Mustn’t forget to celebrate!)

Why am I working on this? I think it will be useful for me in so many situations:

  • When I’m faced with differing opinions and (feel like I) have to convince someone. Those interactions can quickly feel like a fight to me, rather than a conversation.
  • When I feel frustrated. Triggers: Unmet expectations, mis-understandings, disappointment, lack of clarity.
  • When I feel impatient. Which is often! (aaack!)
  • When I feel hopeless. “This will never work / change / go anywhere / matter anyway.”

My hope is to shift the anger and channel the energy for good, not for grouchiness. I see how my fight-or-flight problem has sent me running away from so many things. Or worse, not trying at all. That’s not who I want to be.


I’m working on:

  1. Creating my vision for the work I want to do. It will be related to helping people feel seen, valued, liked, supported, and well-served.
  2. Shifting my hair-trigger anger pattern.

Why I’m sharing:

“Our vision is actionable only if we share it.” This is a step for me to take action. I’m reminded of AC4P – Actively Caring for People – and what their mission stands for: Caring about people, and showing it via action. Caring is not enough; you actually have to do something. Working out loud helps me along the path to doing something.

How you can help, if you’re so moved:

  • Ask me questions
  • Offer suggestions or ideas
  • Tell me about stories that may have come up for you as you read this post

… or leave me a comment with other help that I should have asked for, but didn’t think of. 🙂

Mentor credits (mentoring via me stalking them):

12 thoughts on “Sabbatical Out Loud: Working on Vision and Anger

    • Thank you Theresa! How’d I do on representing TAGteach? Do you know of others who are using it for a personality behavior change like this? I’ll tell you – I had my first opportunity to try it and failed spectacularly. I noticed myself feeling angry, invited myself to choose relaxation, and just couldn’t do it! No relax in the moment, no click. I think I need to pick a more achievable tag point. 🙂


      • theresamckeon says:

        Just this week my son was writing this for his TAGteach book (trials into person-hood; moving through with TAGteach) So much sounded familiar to your story.

        While discussing his most recent disagreement with a friend, he identified the current reinforcer for the behavior he was trying to move away from. It is the realignment of chemicals after a “blow-up” or emotional episode. Now he understands why his first attempt, like yours, failed. The behavior he had targeted (take a deep breath) was not the real behavior he wanted changed and the chosen reinforcer (going out to skate board) was something he wanted to do but not a reinforcer of the desired behavior. They were merely ideas far enough from the truth not to be emotionally painful. Hormones and chemicals and their need to balance and re-balance in the body must be taken into account when trying to identify triggers that may effect behavior and the consequences that happen covertly (adrenaline, cortisol, etc. ) In other words, the behavior and its reinforcer that he needed to attend to, occur much earlier in the cycle than he had realized. Here is Matt’s post.

        “I HAVE RETURNED!!!”

        This is what my parents hear as I walk in the front door for the first time in two years. My most recent endeavor for independence has come to end, but its OK! I am lucky enough to still have wonderful parents who have a home and a room for me to use as I get back on my feet and begin anew. But the return is just the beginning, and the real nature of my situation comes out over the course of time.

        Once the novelty of being home again wears off, the reality sets in. This can be a heavy feeling and has a way of making me feel depressed. I tried to make something happen, and it didn’t work out. I have to start over. How? Where do I begin? How do you start over when the point you are starting at may be the same place geographically, but its not the same place in time?

        To get over the pressure of a perceived “failure”, I have to take an inventory of what I have and what I am now. Much in the same way you get your car inspected when you move to a new state, I have to do an inspection on myself, physically and psychologically. The best place to begin with this inspection is the basic facts. I am older, smarter, more experienced. I have learned to observe more, frown less, and always eventually forgive those that wrong me. Sounds like a pretty good start, right? I have gained a substantial group of new friends and connections, grown my network of business contacts and made a good name for myself in the Portland skate community . All of that is something to proud of, and believe me I am very proud.

        To be fair to myself though, I have to take a stock of what is has gone bad or spoiled. I feel jaded and hurt, cheated and undesired, lied to and useless. I doubt myself and the people around me and have made a point to remain distant to avoid any further offense or injury. I am very sensitive to others criticisms of me and my current condition. Being so sensitive to feedback, especially at a time when constructive criticism and helpful observations from others seem like attacks on my personal character, is my covert behavior. The instant someone begins sharing their perspective on my problems, my heart rate and blood pressure skyrocket and I begin thinking of a method of excusing my behavior as circumstantial or out of my control. In some cases, I will become aggressive and even retaliate with an opinion similar to “you don’t have any idea what you are talking about!”. I experience this automatic response even if their observation has no negative connotation or harsh inflection.

        I am aware that this behavior is detrimental to my desired positive growth. I am also aware of the impact that lashing out at those that want to help, as it can force people away or push people past the point of being willing to help. Having many views on a subject matter is the best way to understand that subject, but by rejecting those views, I am actively rejecting opportunities for personal growth. So my next step is to use the TAGteach approach; identify, mark, and reinforce. I will identify the moment I become aware of the negative feelings, mark that moment as a success, and reinforce the moment of awareness.

        I don’t know how to reinforce the behavior of becoming aware. I don’t know what type of reinforcement would be appropriate or what the would be the best way to mark the behavior. Often times, in the moment, I don’t notice that I am rejecting an opinion or pushing someone away until I hear about it after the fact.

        The reinforcer of blowing up was a subsequent balancing of my bodies chemicals. This is very similar to the ways a cigarette smoker or drug user gets their desired balance when they use. When I retaliate in conversation, I am exuding the pent up feelings through my responses and feel relieved once I’m finished, even though I have actually done more to cause myself problems than I have solved any.

        I have come to the conclusion that just recognizing this is a wonderful first step, and sometimes its best to rest after a long journey, because there will always be more to discover and learn tomorrow.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Dear Theresa – oh my gosh, thank you for this reply, and thank you to your amazing son for writing about his experiences and process of working through and growing with it. We truly aren’t alone, are we.

          I also was thinking about addiction and chemical dependency this week. The “anger challenge” that I first practiced on this week was a “spirited discussion” (haha) with my husband about my online posting habits, privacy, and security. He made a reasonable request that felt would protect our home better. I *know* it was a reasonable request, and yet I had that knee-jerk “feel attacked / get defensive” reaction like your son described. I did notice it and tried to apply the tag point, but I think you’re both are right – it takes longer for the chemicals to settle down.

          When I was able to sleep on it and journal the next morning, I reflected on what I call my social media addiction. It really feels like an addiction. My husband was asking for a very small change, maybe a 5% change in my overall posting behavior. So why was my reaction so disproportionally huge? I realized it was because I get oxytocin hits from my habit of posting and receiving likes and comments back. Any suggested change in getting my feel-good fix felt threatening and unwanted. Ding!

          So yes…. Matt’s and my tag points of “deep breath” or “relax” aren’t feasible at this stage. Maybe we can graduate to them when we get more practice. I think what Matt said about observing and just recognizing when the trigger happens is right on as a first step. And I’ll add to that something I’ve read a lot – “Observe it *without judgment*.” Notice it, acknowledge it, and be accepting of it, rather than beating yourself up. So maybe the tag point is “recognition”. Once we get good at that one, the next one could be “recognize and breathe”. 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

  1. Trisha – From my perspective what you’re doing here is not so much Working Out Loud, as you are Living Out Loud, which is something that’s become of great interest to me. I have no doubt the two should – and, maybe, someday will be – closely intertwined, and you are surely touching on both but, it is – after all – Working Out Loud week. So . . . just tell me to shut up. I don’t know what the hell I’m talking about.

    Have you read Alan Watts’s “The Wisdom of Insecurity” yet? I have no doubt it will help you with that anger thingy. After all, your triggers are most likely responses rooted in some level of insecurity and a desire to remove them and move back to a secure situation. When you grok the reality there’s no such thing (other than fleetingly) is when reaching your calm center is far more likely. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. 😛

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Rick! I finally did read Watt’s “The Wisdom of Insecurity” this summer. Thanks for asking so that I’d have occasion to look at my notes again (published here One of my favorite ideas from the book is “Belief clings, faith lets go.” Applying that to my list of challenging scenarios, I see I’m clinging to shoulds. The final note I made was “The mind can act as a shock absorber. Which is not the same as running away.” He talks about running away as an aspect of being rigid, whereas a shock absorber has aspects of “give” and “weight” (stability). Thank you for giving the nudge so I could rediscover these gems – I think I like what flavor they’ll add to the stew.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Reblogged this on Systems Savvy and commented:
    This this is from a very good friend, who I would kill to have as a colleague. We are both very interested in the concept of working out loud and here I believe she is also living out loud. Pay attention, folks. Trisha knows how to move forward; not just herself, but everyone around her.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Rick, thanks for the reblog, and for being my friend on this journey. Life and figuring out one’s place in it can be a confusing swirl to me sometimes. Writing and posting bits of myself like this remind me that others can help me sort through and get some clarity. Working and living out loud…. it can feel scary when I’m pushing “post”, yet I’m always rewarded!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow, Trisha — so wise! Have you ever read Richard Carlson’s, Taming Your Gremlin? It really helped me with my own similar issues of getting triggered. Over the years, I have learned that noticing really does shift the energy. Now my motto is, Notice and refrain from reacting. Notice and refrain from reacting.

    I am fascinated to see how your journey unfolds!

    – Elizabeth (@cheesemonkeysf)

    Liked by 1 person

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