INVESTORS’ CORNER: The Power or Indignation

By: Lou Gimbutis, Metrolina REIA//March 16, 2020//

INVESTORS’ CORNER: The Power or Indignation

By: Lou Gimbutis, Metrolina REIA//March 16, 2020//

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Indignant is not a very strong adjective. True, it hits much harder than its perfumed and delicate cousin petulance, but carries nowhere near the weight of its 3 elder brothers- rage, infuriation, and even exasperation.

We all have somewhat unique individual reactions when life “hands us lemons”.  The states of mind previously listed are but a fraction of those available to us, and the number of permutations of what action (if any) each may produce simply staggers the mind.

Enough of this- in the 1800s in the United States, the gas companies were not pleasant to work with.  They had no competition, tended to not value customer relationships, and dealt with their customers in a rude, high-handed manner: “Those are the terms, should they not meet your satisfaction you may assuredly spend your evenings in pitch darkness”.

I recently came across an excerpt from an actual diary entry of a young man of this age, writing about just such an unpleasant transaction with the gas company.  “What type of action may Indignation produce” you may ask? The answer, my friend; may very well knock you out of your chair. So, fasten your seatbelts, and enter with me several handwritten diary pages from the 1800s:

I was paying the sheriff $5 a day to postpone judgment on my small factory. Then came the gas man, and because I could not pay his bill promptly, he cut off my gas. I was in the midst of certain very important experiments, and to have the gas people plunge me into darkness made me so mad that I at once began to read up on gas technique and economics, and resolved I would try to see if electricity couldn’t be made to replace gas and give those gas people a run for their money.

End of diary quote.  If that was your story, what would happen next?  Would it end there? Would you get mad? Offended?  Indignant? Thomas Alva Edison in fact became all three, and used what Emerson called “the indignation that arms itself with secret forces” to turn indignation into persistent, sustained, goal-directed action.  Many have wondered how Edison was able to persevere through 10,000 attempts to find a suitable filament for the incandescent electric lightbulb. I think you know have a “clearer” picture.

Lesson #1: Anger/Indignation can be good, if harnessed and put to work for constructive, goal-directed ends.

Lesson #2: Be nice to your customers, because you never know when the next guy whose gas you turn off is going to become so mad that he creates the great Age of Electric Power, and transforms your product into an obsolete, expensive, dangerous, and smelly alternative.


Lou Gimbutis is director of education at the Metrolina Real Estate Investors Association, which provides education, mentoring, and networking for real estate investing in the Charlotte region.  He can be contacted at [email protected]. For more information, visit


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