A great quote to start this off from Oscar Wilde. You know, this year I have had a lot of time to reflect and learn from what I have done in the last few years, which has been a lot!
This year I have changed in a lot of ways. I have become more direct in my leadership, more decisive as a person and as a leader, and also learnt that leading the way from the front isn’t always the most effective way of leadership and that empowerment can be just as, or more effective. However I have also had a drastic change in mindset. I was recently asked how volunteering had impacted my life. Now to set some context, I was with a panel of other people, who were part of something called Our Bright Future on the Youth Forum, as am I, and we were all asked this question as we do not get paid for this position.
Now I had not looked at it as volunteering before being asked that question. In my business mindset, I have always been business driven. I work for a company in my old job, in my company I work for profits as at the end of the day, I need to live and be paid. I have always been scared of volunteering and that word sent shivers down my spine.
I just never thought I could have the time to devote to unpaid work. Also I thought, everyone I have ever seen who volunteers or does philanthropical work has a nice pot of wealth and well, I don’t have that. So Volunteering never really resonated with me.
However that mindset quickly changed when I was selected for the Youth Forum. My project was a sustainable food business, and we sold sustainable food on campus, and was never paid for it, we invested 100% back into the business. We would go for conferences and meetings, and travel and accommodation would be paid but we wouldn’t receive a wage for it. Until I was asked, It never dawned on me that I had been volunteering, to be honest for the first time in my life. Now when everyone was asked they all on a general statement agreed that they went into volunteering, to gain experience to then gain a job, but I found myself to be the opposite. I did paid work and launched my business, and then finding myself go to volunteering, to help me refine myself as a person and also to help refine my business.
Something I found I could have when I volunteered, in comparison to business, was a solid community of like minded individuals, in my case, who all cared for the environment as much as I did. This I did not get when being a lone wolf developing my business. I was able to network, branch out, and utilise this network, to help my business become more eco friendly. I wanted to build in ecological values at the grassroots of my business, so I didn’t need to invest in years to come in comprehensive CSR schemes that many other larger corporations do. I find it a little complex and defeats the object of being eco friendly.
Volunteering helped me achieve this and more. The experience, the wealth of knowledge and most importantly the community that came with volunteering for me far outweighed a simple job with a wage. The ‘opportunity cost’ of the time I have invested, will now grow and give back either in clients and money in the future, and the feeling of happiness knowing that there are people out there that think just like you, and have your back.
It’s a nice experience.
It’s rather funny, thinking that one question I was asked penned such a pivot in my life and pathways of thought in my mind.
Would I recommend volunteering? 100%, don’t wait. Go for it.
I feel so much more fulfilled as a human being for going through the process of volunteering will continue to volunteer until I physically cannot!
Being fulfilled as a human being is far more important in my mind than being fulfilled in the bank account.