We all have things that get under our skin--and when they turn up, they get us going from zero to sixty in a heartbeat. Every frustration, every bit of negativity cumulated over every previous encounter--it all just sits there waiting to get turned on like some big machine. Often times, they're things we can do nothing about or they're things we probably shouldn't let get to us, but in the moment, that doesn't matter. We are gone--venting, raging, etc. about yet another instance of here we go again. It could be about someone who undeservingly gets praise ahead of you--a competitor perhaps--or just someone who likes to pick fights and draw you in.
I was talking with my executive coach (If you're heads down in this startup world, it's an investment worth making) about my propensity to get drawn in to negative conversations over and over again and I said something to the effect of getting "hooked in". That's really what it feels like--and when you're hooked in, it's really tough to escape.
"Don't bite the hook."
That's the title of a book not surprisingly written by a Buddist about getting freedom from destructive emotions. When you recognize that something is a hook (especially when you're just a fish), not biting down on it is really the only way not to get pulled down that path. The next time an article comes out about your closest competitor, or a reporter asks you about a controversial topic, recognize it for what it is--a hook--and probably one attached to the line of someone fishing. Just smile and go about your business, because you've got more productive things to do.
Do you know what happens when the fish stop biting? The fisherman moves to another spot and the problem usually goes away. The public conversation moves on to some other shiny object, competition goes away because they can't execute as well, and wannabees move on.