Anger is Story and Innovative Fuel: Why Conflict Powers Incredible Storytelling

I spoke to a group of entrepreneurs recently about storytelling and conflict. Being an entrepreneur is hard – just like being an executive in a big company: both can be isolating.

Many of these entrepreneurs expressed frustration, rejection and anger as well as passion and excitement. We all do. That is totally normal. Congrats – your human card is intact!

Sadly, we get the “social” message all too frequently that we shouldn’t be angry and that conflict is negative. Well, there is good conflict and bad conflict. There is a big difference. Because anger can be galvanizing for change. I know first-hand that conflict powers incredible storytelling.

The minute our brains hear conflict…it increases our listening. Why? The introduction of challenge and conflict increases our curiosity – we want to know how the storyteller solved that challenge. What did they do with that conflict? How was it resolved?

Conflict Powers Incredible Storytelling

Get Angry For Good. It is Story and Innovation Fuel.

And…I think we should ALL get angry. If that makes you angry, good. Anger – properly channeled – is story and innovation fuel. Even bigger: It is fuel for transformation and growth.

In improv we say on the stage that a powerful story arc includes we ask, “How are you changed by X?” That means showing emotions and using that to advance the story. Your story. Stories that inspire have a huge human and emotional arc. That is what people want to hear. And anger provides the “today is the day!” moment where the status quo is no longer tolerable.

I think we’re all just one transgression away from being activated…from big change. Think about the last you got mad and how it compelled you to act.

Anger and conflict tell us something needs to change. That is story and innovation fuel:

–The women that got angry about injustice and started the #metoo movement…

–The entrepreneur who leaves a job with an idea that is rejected by his company or by VCs who is fueled by something deeper and wants to change lives for the better

–The company whose founders want to change something because they are tired and, yes, pissed off by a broken status quo…

All of it. We’re tired, frustrated and angry and *something* has to change.

Every transformation and great story has conflict. And anger is a barometer – a check engine light – that tells us something is off. Anger is like visiting your relatives – you have to visit once in a while; you don’t want to live there!

Don’t Dwell on It – Channel it!

So I celebrate frustration and anger; when properly used, it can propel some pretty amazing stuff. Don’t be so quick to dismiss it. Sit with it and channel it. Use it as rocket fuel.

Anger is a call to change something. What will it be in your life?

I am half German and Catholic – so I get angry and then I feel guilty about it! And I use it because I was raised to get angry at injustice and “isms” that diminish people. My mom – while pregnant with my brother – marched with Cesar Chavez and Dolores Huerta in solidarity over table grapes: Yep, solidarity with the United Farm Workers for human rights.

Great things can come from conflict if we listen and take action in the best possible way.

You are fully human – use those emotions. All of them.

What makes you angry? That will tell you what needs to change.



Kathy Klotz-Guest is a story and creativity strategist, speaker and author. An improviser and comedian as well as an MBA, MA, Kathy brings interactivity, inspiration and innovation to events, talks, and workshops. Interested in having her speak at your company? Contact Kathy.

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