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Ahhh Mokita. It’s time we talked about the elephant in the volunteer manager room. We want to stand up for ourselves, but we don’t want to be ruthless. We want to be selfless but we don’t want to be stepped on. We look at our traits in terms of opposites. So we pick one side over the other, never thinking that we can be a whole and more productive person by uniting these two sides.

How can volunteer managers tame the emotional war within us? Must we be placid to be kind? Do we have to become hardened, selfish and mean spirited to achieve respect and recognition for our work?

NO, NO and once more, NO.

In order to cease battling and reconcile the two sides within, we first must dispel our burdensome misconceptions. Let’s look at the traits that make up our Mokita: We’ll consult a dictionary as the authority.

Misconceptions on the giving side:

Humble = weak; (no, it means ‘not proud or arrogant’)

Altruistic = easy; (not even close; it means ‘unselfishly concerned for or devoted to the welfare of others’)

Magnanimous = powerless; (not in this lifetime; it means ‘free from petty resentfulness or vindictiveness’)

Kindhearted = spineless; ( no, way off; it means ‘showing kindness’)

Helpful = doormat; (no, besides one is an adjective, the other a noun, but anyway, it means ‘being of service’)

And misconceptions on the taking side:

Strong = mean; (no, and I LOVE this. It means ‘especially able, competent, or powerful in a specific field or respect’)

Respected = selfish; (no, and this is just priceless. It means ‘having esteem for or a sense of the worth or excellence of a person’)

Appreciated = greedy; (nah, and this couldn’t be better. It means ‘being valued or regarded highly’)

Conscientious = uncooperative; (nope, never did. It means and this is so spot on, ‘governed by conscience; controlled by or done according to one’s inner sense of what is right; principled’)

Bold = conceited; (no, didn’t think so. It means, and oh yes, this is perfect; ‘not hesitating or fearful in the face of actual or possible danger or rebuff; courageous and daring’)

For too long, volunteer managers have operated under the misconception that we are the the pushovers, and the pack mules of our organizations. But in order to change these misconceptions, we must first change them within. If we do not believe that we can be strong and bold without losing our altruistic and humble nature, then we won’t convince anyone else either.

Maybe, to ease the emotional adjustment to becoming courageous and daring, we can look at it like this: We’re not changing to only better ourselves. We’re changing to help lift all the other volunteer managers and volunteer programs out there. We are striving for respect and appreciation to light the path for all those future volunteer leaders.

Now that’s more in keeping with our altruistic nature, isn’t it?