When I start a new position, I meet people with extremely strong opinions, sometimes positive, sometimes negative, about the organization – specifically fundraising and communication at the organization. These are people who are volunteers, current or past employees, or longtime supporters of the organization and believe longevity equals expertise. In my head, I am telling them all to “hush up” as I am new and have no knowledge of the past or have even had time to review what has been done prior to my arrival. I am hearing these individuals telling me how to do my job, what needs to be done overall, and why the way it “used to be when we were in here” is better than the way it is now. Every time I started a new position, I would find these individuals. Or, I guess I should say, these individuals would find me.
To save myself a lot of headaches and frustration, I began to call them passionately opinionated. The term was perfect. These individuals are definitely passionate about the organization, even if I don’t agree with what they say. They are also opinionated and believe their opinions will solve the issues they see within the organization. The term passionately opinionated became a term I used frequently when describing people I came into contact with throughout my career. The term also is not offensive. I originally used it to keep myself from calling them inappropriate names or saying something out loud that would get me into trouble out of pure frustration.
What I’ve come to realize over the years is that I want to be passionately opinionated. I want to be so passionate about a cause that I am constantly talking about what makes it special. I want to be opinionated in ways to make others think about opportunities and improvements for the organization that I brought out my passion.
Being passionately opinionated is no longer a negative term to me. Today, it’s a term of endearment. As I spent time with my groups of passionately opinionated people, I learned about their true love and passion for the organization. I learned that this organization had shaped their lives into the lives they are currently living. I learned that they wanted to be heard, and I was a new ear for them to share their thoughts and opinions. It had nothing to do with them thinking their way was better or they knew best. It had to do with them wanting to still feel a part of something bigger.
What organization makes you passionate? Do you talk to your friends or the organization’s staff about your ideas about how the organization functions with programs, fundraising, or communication? Can you share your passion and opinions without complaint of how the organization is doing?
If you have an organization and can answer yes to these questions, then I challenge you today…
Go become passionately opinionated.