Anger is a powerful emotion and uncontrolled it can bring about consequences that last a lifetime.
On a cold and sunny Monday in January 2006, fire department resources from my shift were dispatched to a motor vehicle accident involving an extrication. I responded as the on-duty battalion chief and enroute, Dispatch informed us that a tractor (like the one in the photo) had flipped and pinned the driver beneath the machine.
Arriving on-scene, I saw a large Ford pickup truck approximately one quarter mile north of my location buried in deep snow in a field. Behind the truck was the tractor that had flipped over. Fortunately, a neighbor helped with a large front-end loader to move snow allowing access for our trucks. Unfortunately, the operator of the tractor was already deceased.
Law enforcement officers on-scene later told us that a family argument had ensued the night before and one of the individuals involved had driven his pickup truck into the field when it became buried in the deep snow.
On Monday morning, the owner of the truck decided to use the small tractor to pull the much larger vehicle out of the snow. However, the tractor did not have the needed size or power to dislodge the heavier truck and unfortunately, the tractor flipped over and immediately killed the driver.
Pain and Regret
When law enforcement informed the family of the fatal outcome, their screams of pain and anguish were heard across the field. I immediately wondered if the family members and the deceased had reconciled from their argument the night before or if they parted with words of anger lingering on their tongue. Whatever happened between them, it was too late to say, “I’m sorry, would you forgive me?”
This is a significant date in my life because it is the day that I came home from school and found my dad lying on the floor, deceased from his fifth and final heart attack. Leaving for school earlier in the day, we parted with kind words between the two of us. Little did I know those were the last words I would speak to my dad. I experienced incredible pain over my loss, but we did not part in anger or regret.
In my book, The Furnace of Leadership Development, I go into much more detail about my dad’s death, the impact to my life, and the influence two other key individuals had in my life afterwards. Also, there is a chapter called The Consuming Fire of Anger. As leaders we need to know about anger, pain, and regret. We need to know how to manage our anger because amongst many other things, that powerful emotion will lead to pain and regret.
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