I have had some irate phone calls in my time. People who have called me just to tell me how upset they were to receive something in the post, or an email that I sent. I wonder what moves people to do that. What upsets them so much about being asked to donate money to a cause that they simply must call and give a piece of their mind. Often, I wasn’t the one who sent the offending piece of mail or email. But they are offended, and I am the person they know.
That’s okay. I understand that. Especially if someone receives many requests to give money. But I don’t think that’s the reason for everyone who calls. Some people’s reaction is disproportionate to the size of the offence. Their outrage over a letter asking them to support something amazing appears to be never ending. It must be something else.
Here’s what I think it is – they are offended by passion. Have you ever been around someone who is just so excited, so motivated, so passionate about what they are doing that they can’t seem to stop talking about it? The thing makes up much of their lives. It is the thing they are known for. Man, they are annoying. But only if you don’t share the same passion. If you love what they love then you can become best friends, but if you are not on board with their thing then their passion starts to wear thin pretty quickly.
Passion is offensive to those who don’t have it.
Partly because it reminds them that they don’t have it.
As you grow your passion about whatever you care about, know that some will be offended by it. Not because you are doing something evil, but because they are not willing to take the risk of caring deeply.
You can learn from anyone. You can learn from everyone. No matter what age, gender, culture, background or life experience. There is always something you can learn. You can especially learn from the person that you respect the least.
To be able to do that requires a special kind of attitude
that recognises that even if you disagree with someone about most things or
dislike a person with a great deal of passion, they still have something to
offer you. They can teach you something about something.
On the flipside, even if someone disagrees with you about
most things or dislikes you with a great deal of passion, you have something to
offer them. You can teach them something about something.
As with most things that are difficult, it requires an act
of generosity. The act of generosity in this is to recognise the fact that
learning can come from anyone, and then to seek it out. Of course, it is easier
said than done, but it is an act of generosity towards others and towards
Towards others because when you seek to learn from someone
you actually communicate to them that they have value. What greater generosity
could there be?
Towards yourself because in seeking to learn from someone
else, especially someone that you don’t like, creates a posture of humility,
ready to learn and ready to grow. That is an amazing gift for you.
We are nearly there you know. We have almost overcome extreme poverty. It’s not quite beaten as there are still hundreds of millions of people suffering in it but we have made some huge progress over the last 50 years and we will beat it in my lifetime. So I’ve been giving some thought to what life will look like for me ‘after poverty’.
It’s a strange thing to think about but the reality hit me
the other day as I was contemplating my life and purpose. I have been working
at overcoming poverty for such a long time now, and there are many more people
who have been doing it for longer, so what would I do with life when there is
no longer a need to rid the world of extreme poverty? How will my skills
transfer? Not only that, how will my passions transfer.
This is the most exciting thought process that I have ever had – not because I am looking for another job but because at some point in the future, I will make myself obsolete and nothing could make me happier. I long for a world in which organisations like Opportunity International are no longer around because this means that people everywhere are able to make the most of their life, live up to their full potential, regardless of where they were born.
Surely this is the greatest succession plan. I am incredibly
glad that of all the jobs that will become obsolete in the future, mine is one
Now, join me in making that a reality.