“This Is An Outrage!”

How constructive is outrage for leadership?

Was Martin Luther King Jr. outraged? Was Gandhi? Dorothy Day? Jesus?

Certainly. But outraged is not the posture we associate with the change they made. No doubt, the injustices they fought were outrageous, and a bone-deep revulsion at them must have driven King and others to lead movements for change. Yet the face they put forward in that effort did not appear affronted or violated so much as resolved.

“This is an outrage!” means there is nowhere left to go, nothing left to discern. It signals the end of conversation and the beginning of opposition. Let it come to that if it must. But don’t confuse your outrage with effective resistance.

And proceed carefully; lead with outrage too often and people lose the ability to hear you. The people I want to follow don’t often proceed from outrage. It’s there, sure, but more as fuel than flame. I want to follow their clarity of vision and purpose, not their indignation, not their anger but their plans.

 

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