Rabbi Ila’I said: A person is known by three things: his cup (how he holds his liquor, in my case whiskey); his pocket (how generous one is), and his anger.
In many ways as campus professionals, we understand how the mixture of these three things can make or break your work at Hillel. Generosity in bars (think Torah on Tap or Global Assembly) or with time, wisdom, or care are often greatly appreciated. Anger is much less so.
Anger, however, can be a great personal and professional teaching tool—it’s all in how we utilize that anger to move forward. Are we expressing it publicly and quickly without much forethought, as Moses did when he smashes the rock? Or, do we decide to expend that negative energy in a positive way—to explore the source of the frustration and transform it into an opportunity for change?
Anger is a part of life; it is important that we learn how to deal with it whether it comes from an internal or external source. But what we do with that pent-up energy is what matters: as leaders in our community, we all struggle, but have the ability to lead from a remarkably positive place.
To ask the right questions, take cautious but determined steps forward, to model a constructive conflict based on differing values—all of these are opportunities for us to undertake on campus.
So when you get angry, remember that you can laugh, cry, eat ice cream, dance it out, run it off, or when all else fails, strike a rock…or a pillow (it’s much softer).
Amanda Weiss is Director of Jewish Leadership & Learning at Oregon Hillel.