Anger and Passion - The Driving Force Behind Real Change

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The truth about leaders is that most are motivated by the desire to make a change in the way things are. A good leader rarely wants to walk the path of another. They want to brave their own trail.  But what motivates someone to take on the role of a leader in the first place? Is it the attention that accomplishment brings? Sometimes. More often a leader is annoyed and even driven to anger and that emotion is enough to start the process for change. Yet anger rarely sustains any cause and even drives a healthy person to insanity.  At some point anger must be replaced with righteous passion. Passion sustains, anger drains.

Those of us in the business of fundraising know that the most important way to a person's wallet is the ability to reach their emotions. Sometimes that emotion is anger and that's okay. Anger is behind every injustice. Anger motivates us to get involved. When we are angry something happens. We cry. We clinch a fist. We get loud. Give an angry person an action item and mountains are moved. Yesterday I found a text message from an activist asking me to make a phone call to a politician regarding the Senate vote on the tax bill. The text included a script I needed to say. The sender made it so easy I replied I would make the call. In less than a minute my anger was channeled into action. The sender has the passion  that motivated him to text thousands of personal friends and business contacts during the holidays.

I venture to say that 100% of non-profits and causes are launched first because of an injustice. We get angry. Once we are exposed to an injustice our compassion causes us to want to give, volunteer or create a vehicle for change. Anger is often mixed with our compassion but compassion alone does little to effect change. Compassion becomes the passion we need to take the next step. Passion keeps us going. Passion awakens our talents.  The truth about leaders is that most are motivated by the desire to create change. A good leader rarely wants to walk the path of another. Most dare to brave their own trail. But what motivates someone to take on the role of a leader in the first place? Is it the attention that accomplishment brings? Sometimes. The need to be known or famous is electrifying for some. Do-gooders are more often annoyed and even driven to anger by some act or injustice and that emotion is enough to start the process for change. Yet a continually angry person is not a good leader and may never move beyond that grating emotion. At some point anger must be replaced with righteous passion. Passion sustains, anger drains.

What Motivates Giving?

Serving the non-profit community as an auctioneer and advisor puts me squarely in front of community leaders, politicians, community organizers, founders, celebrities, activists and victims of every kind of inequality, cruelty and injustice. They are my teachers. I've witnessed how passion exposes courage and how courage erases fear.  Fear will unravel the best intentions.

What Motivates Volunteers?

I often sit-in on board meetings and regularly meet with development officers, volunteer committees, event planners and employees - each with a different role to play in the execution of an auction.  It's my privilege to see the altitude of their attitudes, the surrendering body language, and opinions and insights. It's easy to recognize their heart and passion. Passion is contagious and has a way of  increasing the desire to participate fully. Events planned by passionate people have a greater chance of success vs. the leader who fails to see beyond their own limits.

Non-profits are fueled by volunteers. Volunteers become dedicated when they find their own passion . Giving generously of their time and talent is effortless. I have my own story of how anger interferes with creativity and inspiration. I am the founder of Whisker City Cat Rescue. I started the cat rescue with the notion that I would be caring for cats and finding forever homes. I had no idea how to lead volunteers nor was I prepared for the crushing hurt I felt when came face to face with the cruel acts committed on helpless animals. I got angry about the excuses people gave for abandoning their animals. I got angry when people talked about the rescued cats and kittens like furnishings. I got angry when a horribly abused cat was brought to us and died from injuries. I was angry all the time and I attracted volunteers who were angry all the time too. When others began joining me in saving lives, my life became complicated and stressful. I was not prepared to carry the burdens of so many people. I was unprepared for the social issues and human drama. I failed to factor in that people who relinquish pets come with problems and needs. When I realized my error and inexperience I had to pull back and find a way to focus on the passion that had been obliterated by anger. But when I made the shift, the volunteers I had surrounded myself with refused to join me in the change we needed. Finally one December, I closed down the shelter and told the volunteers I needed a break. But I didn't rest. I got busy cleaning out my anger.  I literally gutted the shelter's structure and asked the coarsest volunteers to leave. I assessed the bones of the building and the bones of my soul. The decision was painful yet I felt the well of discomfort slowly leak away.  Eventually it re-filled with fresh rewards. I became the change and today, Whisker City is a thriving shelter with volunteers I admire and a space I'm proud to be part of. It happened while I was exuding passion and that passion attracted healthy passionate do-gooders.