Volunteering for Fun and Profit
Volunteering for your community or sport or something that interests you is a great way to meet people and learn new skills.
It seems that for most of my life I have been doing some sort of voluntary work. In fact I guess I would feel a bit lost without it now. And yet I am asked why I put myself in the position where I have so much to do and put myself under pressure like that.
Firstly nobody needs to put themselves under the sort of pressure I do in order to get rewards out of volunteering. I guess I am just a bit of a pressure junkie. Secondly I have more time than most people I know, given I don’t have a partner or kids. But this should not deter those with busy family lives from doing some volunteering, many volunteer for events with their kids.
To give you an idea of the sort of thing I mean; I spent much of my youth at Karate, after reaching a certain level of proficiency I taught Women’s self defence for the club. It was voluntary on my part but the club got donations, or sponsorship depending on the situation. Later after returning from Europe I took over running the club. That was a major responsibility!
Since I have been in Hamilton I have been involved in Toastmasters serving as treasurer, secretary and president for my club (I am no longer active in Toastmasters), I helped with Social Media Club Hamilton, The Hamilton Filmmakers Network, The Great Pumpkin Carnival, and currently I am the speaker coach for TEDx Ruakura in Hamilton.
Many of these roles were taken on with a level of trepidation. Could I handle it? Would I make a fool of myself? Worse; could I make things worse rather than better for the club/project/organisation?
This fear is both natural and necessary. Necessary because I believe you need to fear failure in order to put in your best efforts.
Through these experiences I have learned a great deal. I have found and polished some skills and talents I didn’t previously know existed. Teaching Karate for years made me comfortable putting together a curriculum for the students, and teaching from the front of the class. This served me well when I got a promotion in Telecom to the role of Trainer.
And that is what I mean by profit.
You don’t profit directly from the work you volunteer to do, but you do learn valuable skills and make great contacts that can help you in your professional life. I cannot stress enough the opportunity to learn skills by finding the right project. Don’t worry too much about the role when you start, that will calibrate over time to something you are good at, (usually something you didn’t realise you were good at).
In fact if you are just leaving school or university, I would highly recommend you find a voluntary position to help out in. It may impact slightly on your social calendar, but will open other social engagements to you, and the skills and contacts you make can help shape your life.
And the fun comes from the people you meet. Other volunteers from a variety of backgrounds and disciplines. The people the organisation serves and pillars of the community who help support these events. Plus the satisfaction of a job well done, achieving your goals and bringing smiles to the faces of people in your community.
The headline is Volunteering for Fun & Profit not Volunteering for Ego & Profit!
Over time I have seen too many people get involved in these things in order to be known as or for something. Or you get someone who has been involved for a long period of their life, they are not particularly good at what they do as they have never taken the opportunity to learn and improve their skills, and yet the lord over more capable people with their titles. -I think we have all come across these people at one time or another. -Don’t be that guy!
I take some pride in being the Speaker Coach for TEDx Ruakura. I am happy to tell people of my role. But if a better speaker coach came along I would stand aside without hesitation and become the Assistant Speaker Coach just so I can learn from them. Or if the committee came to me and said that I had an undue influence on the talks because of the way I was performing my role, and that I should stand aside, then I would do so without hesitation.
The point is that Volunteering is about serving others not self-serving. The project or organisation is more important than any one of the committee members or volunteers. This focus on something other than yourself is one of the things that makes volunteering so valuable.
So go out and do it!