A few days ago, a friend was honored for their twenty years of service to a non-profit organization. Beyond the humorous gifts and the heartfelt appreciation of her many colleagues, friends and volunteers, it was the organization’s President—the chief volunteer leader—who provided one of the event’s most significant insights. He read the first column ever written by my colleague for the organization’s newsletter. While her commentary was upbeat and positive—typical of a new leaders—she also laid out an engaging and inclusive theme for the future of the organization and the community it serves. Light on specifics, but broad and encompassing in concepts, you could feel her optimism and in a way “see” her vision.
Twenty years later, as the organization’s President said just before reading the column to us, “This will sound familiar.” He was right. In all of my encounters and in all of her many messages, columns and interactions, she has steadily repeated, tested, and engaged the members in an active dialogue about her vision for the organization and more importantly the community it serves. She has rarely wavered—not out of stubbornness, mind you—but rather out of a deeply-held commitment and heartfelt belief in her purpose and passion. Coupled to the mission of the organization, it became and has remained a powerful force.
It was a warm and memorable reminder of the power of passion. Having it isn’t quite enough. Sharing it, saying it (over and over and over again) engaging members and allowing your ideas to be shaped and re-molded by the insights and experiences of others can be. Leaders know the power of passion and as this celebration so aptly reminds us, so do their followers.