What’s Your Compassionate Anger?

We’ve all heard “follow your passion” or the quest to “get paid to do what you love,” but the intrinsic problem within these simple statements is they are a little one-sided; as if your business is solely about you feeling totally blissed out with the work you’re doing.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I totally want you blissed out, following your passion and getting paid doing what you love! But I also don’t want you quitting, all jilted and disappointed, when things feel less than blissful. It doesn’t matter how much you love what you do, there are going to be tough days, and situations that push you to the edge.

So how can we know that our work is something we’re willing to fight for, sticking with it through thick and thin? One of my favorite ways to draw this out of my clients is to ask, “What’s your Compassionate Anger?”

This is a brilliant term coined by Todd Henry, the author of Die Empty (one of my favorite books!). He presents ‘Compassionate Anger’ in his book as follows:

“What fires you up, gets your blood boiling, or otherwise creates in you an urgency to act? Note the very important distinction of compassionate anger. This isn’t the same thing as road rage, frustration with poor customer service, or feeling irked when you’re disrespected. The word “compassion” means to “suffer with.” Where do you see dynamics in the marketplace or the world at large that cause you to feel a desire to step in on behalf of those who are suffering in order to bear part of their burden or rectify a wrong?

Though it certainly can be the case, this doesn’t have to mean that you’re working to overcome some pressing social ill. Your compassionate anger may be on behalf of an underserved market or a group of people who are not being given an adequate platform or the tools they need to do their work. In either case, you are making a conscious decision to step into their battle and suffer with them. What do you see, hear, read, or experience that fills you with compassionate anger? Can that knowledge help you choose the battles you should be fighting?”

Here’s my compassionate anger

My compassionate anger is seeing brilliant creatives squander their brilliance. Meaning, here you have this amazing skill or message that’s trying to come through you, and yet you’re either wrapped up in fear or derailed by details or the inefficiencies of your processes (aka leaky bucket syndrome / wasting time), thereby not sharing your big ideas and unique gifts with the world (or, at minimum, more people than your small handful of clients). I want to see you in the flow and thriving, baby!

compassionate anger

Now, it’s your turn

When you think of your client’s or customer’s challenges, are there specific things that evoke a compassionate anger in you? What pisses you off or drives you crazy?

Does this reveal a fiery passion in you? Did you already know about it, or is this helping reveal an area you could use to explore further? I’d love to hear what yours is in the comments below!


p.s. I highly recommend all of Todd’s books. He’s also the creator of my favorite podcast, The Accidental Creative. I’m a huge fan of his work! 

Leave a Reply 2 comments

Kay Ross - January 19, 2016 Reply

My compassionate anger is that it breaks my heart and drives me nuts when I see people (and companies) shoot themselves in the foot with bad marketing – specifically ineffective and badly written/edited marketing material, poor customer service and user-unfriendly websites. It doesn’t have to be that way!

    Willo O'Brien - January 20, 2016 Reply

    Love it, Kay! So many people need your genius in this world. Hallelujah for you! <3

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