Wilma Mankiller, the first female principal chief of the Cherokee nation, once told me how the cow runs away from the storm while the buffalo charges directly toward it—and gets through it quicker. Whenever I’m confronted with a tough challenge, I do not prolong the torment. I become the buffalo.
As the first African-American woman to manage a presidential campaign, Donna Brazile has definitely overcome her share of challenges in her journey to a successful career. But what about you? When you’re faced with a challenge, are you the cow or the buffalo?
From what I see, Generation Y nonprofit professionals act more like cows. We’re not willing to take the risks associated with real leadership, we just want to get to the destination with no pain and preferably with a nice little roadmap, thankyouverymuch. Even though young people have all the wherewithall to be the buffalo—education, passion, networks—we’re afraid of potential failure. We’re more likely to watch and wait in our air-conditioned cubicles for mentors to show us the way.
But, for real though? The nonprofit sector really doesn’t need more cows who run away from the storms of social change. We have too many of those already. What we need now are more buffalo who will face the challenges in our communities head-on and charge right through the fear and uncertainty for the greater good. We need more buffalo because of what they represent: leadership.