“I’m probably the angriest person here.”
That phrasing caught me by surprise. I was at dinner at the 2017 Automattic Grand Meetup in Whistler, BC. I was sitting next to one of the happiest and most enjoyable people I know.
This person went on to elaborate on what they meant. They weren’t angry about their current situation, the dinner, or anything else related to that particular point in time. Here’s a short list of things they were angry about:
- Certain parts of the education system in the US
- Gender gaps in tech
- The lack of self-advocacy techniques shared with underrepresented groups (in and out of tech)
We overuse the term “passionate” to describe our various areas of interest. Passion implies a strong belief and an interest in learning more about a particular issue. Often times, passion stops there short of action, short of follow-through that changes the situation for others.
“Anger” is different. It implies something more than passion. Yes, you hold a strong belief about the issue. Yes, you want to learn more about it. But, anger doesn’t stop there. It goes a step farther – you’re actively working to change the game for everyone else.
Many would characterize themselves as passionate. Not many would say they’re angry.
A Short List That Makes Me Very Angry
If you were to poll my friends and family, they would probably say I’m one of the most positive people they know. I’m a serial high-fiver. My default response to “How are you doing?” is “fantastic.” I try to have a smile on my face at all times.
After the conversation mentioned above, I thought through a short list of what makes me angry. What are the causes that I get worked up about on a regular basis? If you had me at a dinner table and wanted me to get all fired up, what would you talk about? Here’s a short list I came up with.
The lack of self-advocacy training and resources.
As a collective, we’re not good at talking about ourselves. In many cases, we’re encouraged specifically not to talk about ourselves within a group. This manifests in several ways, but the most noticeable within an organization involves performance reviews, interviews, and promotions.
Self-advocacy is a skill that requires time and practice to develop. It doesn’t come naturally, and it’s necessary particularly for career success. We need more resources like So Good They Can’t Ignore You and Deep Work that encourage individuals to build their own career portfolio. If the boss says, “What exactly do you do around here?” you should be ready.
The lack of emphasis on self-learning.
I have written about this in-depth previously. The most beneficial skill on the planet is learning how to teach yourself something new. It’s a game changer across the board. Our world will continue to move faster and faster. Adapt or die is an applicable mantra.
Continuous learning is the answer. Fast learners will continue to excel in the workforce. If we continue to emphasize that learning is finished once you leave school, we’re setting everyone up for failure.
The lack of clarity around nonprofits.
This one strays from the other two quite a bit, but it still rankles me quite a bit. Story after story continues to surface from leading nonprofits about corruption, greed, and minimal impact compared to the donation size. The book Doing Good Better covers this in great detail.
We need nonprofits that are mission (not profits) driven and transparent. It should be clear where donated dollar is going when I hand it over. Metrics like “Return on Investment” and “Cost-Effectiveness” should be scrutinized closely. Overall, the public should be more informed.
Perhaps anger and passionate are synonymous in some ways. Many passionate individuals are taking the steps necessary to make a difference.
In my mind, the two are separate. I’m passionate about fitness, but I’m not worked up enough to change the fitness industry at the moment. I’m angry about the three items listed above.
In the next three posts, I’ll clarify the next steps. If passion stops at follow-through, what actions am I taking to change the game for the three items mentioned above?
I’ll leave you with the obvious question—what are you angry about?