A fellow volunteer said to me that she really enjoyed working with me that it has been so much fun. What was incredible, volunteer went on to say, that this experience has restored her faith in human nature, “it is hard to be positive with all the terrible things that happen, but everyone is so friendly and appreciative and polite.”
I was finishing my last shift volunteering on the Para Athletic World Championships as a team leader in the Hero Village. As a volunteer, I am determined to have fun doing it. If you have fun then other people have fun with you. You cannot control how other people think but you can influence how other people feel.
Maya Angelou said it better, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
Of course, as a self-employed business mentor volunteering my time is going to have an impact on my business so, why do it?
It is an opportunity to:
- Step out of your comfort zone.
- You learn more doing something different.
- Forging links with your community.
- Step out of your comfort zone
Comfort kills productivity you push your personal boundaries only when you are out of your comfort zone. You must learn new skills and processes to be productive and find smarter ways to work. I have certainly had to work smart between my volunteer shifts.
When you push your boundaries when the unexpected hits you, you are more agile to cope with these changes. Having done it once you are happier to push your boundaries again, knowing you survived the first adventure. Eventually it becomes your nature to do things you have not done before, utilising your honed problem-solving skills and creativity developed with each push away from comfort.
As you continue to self-improve and broaden your horizons, you grow in confidence, able to cope with the unknown. Getting out of your own head and away from your business to focus on other people benefits you as much as them.
- You learn more doing something different
It is 7 years since I employed and managed a team of 20, so I want to revise these people skills and volunteered for the team leadership role. Self-improvement can be gained by either doing the same thing in a difference environment or something different in the same environment. Exposing yourself to an unfamiliar environment gives you a new challenge that you must learn negotiate.
According to Deloitte, 91% of Fortune 500 HR managers said that “volunteering knowledge and expertise to a non-profit can be an effective way to cultivate critical business and leadership skills,” that can make all the difference in cultivating leadership and planning for future success.
Businesses are more likely to retain their talent and develop their employee’s skills through volunteering. Well you do not have to be employed to gain the same benefits the self-employed can do it too.
I volunteer as a business mentor for the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women and Virgin Start-up, I wanted to put my professional skills to use in a different environment to benefit another organisation.
- Forging links with your community
Your business exists in your community. It can be hard to connect with the powerbrokers in your community, so often these networks are insular, and protected by gatekeepers. But one effective way to break in meet and connect as peers is through volunteering for a charitable cause you both support with a passion.
As a local business, your relationship to your community is symbiotic, when your community thrive, they are more likely to support your business. It is more satisfying to work for a company with a mission, if the mission benefits the wider community it is more compelling. So, talk about what you do in your community within your business and promote non-sensitive information and celebrate your success of giving back within your community. It may not pay direct dividends, but you will see a community benefit. Leadership is not a rank it is a choice. It is not an event it is a practice of putting the wellbeing of other before yourself.
When I first moved into this community 26 years ago I became a primary school governor, I soon learnt who were the movers and shaker and how much the school system had changed since I went through it. I now help companies create happy experiences for their customers. Every shift I did in the Para athletics Hero Village, I meet some amazing people, having direct contact with visitors is not my everyday experience but was a valuable one.
Here are 5 ways volunteering will advance your business and your community:
- Enhance Your Skills beyond your comfort boundaries.
- Make new connections in your community.
- Bolster employee and community loyalty and morale.
- Give back to your wider community creates reciprocity.
- Mental health benefits getting out of your own box/head/business.
I have three lasting memories: Sophie Hahn MBE World record breaker and Gold medallist asking me if she could take a picture with me. 😊 Getting volunteers to participate in dancing that got visitors involved and raised the energy and then a volunteer saying her view of the world is more hopeful – that is amazing!
Find an opportunity to give back, not only are you helping others you are helping yourself. What are your experiences of volunteering leave your comments below…