We spend countless hours every week trying to get ahead. But what exactly are we trying to get ahead of? With our noses so affixed to the grindstone we tend to forget what exactly it is we are working so hard toward. We become so engrossed in the goals we set for ourselves we forget about the rest of the world that surrounds us. Volunteerism helps ground us in the reality of the world around us. It opens our senses and makes us more aware of the needs of others. There is something to be said for climbing the corporate ladder, starting up a new company or landing the big promotion you have been working so hard toward, but without giving a portion of yourself back it is easy to get lost in a sea of hopeless ambition.
The word volunteer derives from the adverb voluntary, to act on one’s own will or by choice. Volunteerism is an act of giving back in some form by giving time, skills, materials or other means. As a social entrepreneur I believe giving back is important because it connects me to the community. Millions of people every day are taking the time to improve our world somehow without being paid or reimbursed by some financial means and choose to volunteer in order to help the common good. Volunteering can help us personally and professionally to discover new passions or fuel old ones, expose ourselves to new ideas, expand our networks to new faces, help prevent workplace burn out, learn new skills or trades, and possibly even lead to alternative careers or employment.
Volunteer work is self-rewarding. In a time where our professional worlds are shifting to incorporate ethics and social responsibility, it is a choice that we as developing leaders and professionals can make to improve not only our own lives but the lives of those around us as well. I encourage you to donate a few hours back into your community in some way. And if you already are, then I encourage you to bring a friend with you the next time you go out and volunteer. Volunteerism is contagious and its good will can make lasting impressions on others around you by inviting them to be involved. Volunteerism is a key to unlocking new leadership potential among each of us. Anyone can be a volunteer, regardless of whether you are the CEO, GM, or just the new kid on the block. Make some time to get out and have an impact. Whether you are looking to become more well rounded, or you are lacking a sense of reward in what you are doing professionally, volunteerism can bring out good in all of us.
“It is one of the most beautiful compensations of life, that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself.” Ralph Waldo Emerson
If you are unsure of how to begin volunteering or become more involved in service groups or charitable organizations in your area please feel free to contact me anytime for additional resources and information.
Chad Pedigo, is a Volunteer, Social Entrepreneur, and the Fine Arts Manager for North Central College and can be reached at 630-637-5341 or by email at email@example.com.