In this digital age of tweeting what we had for breakfast for everyone to see, it’s all too easy to focus on the “me, me, me” of life. Without really meaning to, people can easily become centered on just their own needs and desires. But have you ever noticed that the most powerful and influential people are usually engaged in helping others in significant ways? There’s a reason for that connection: empowering other people has a major impact not only on those who are helped, but on the helper as well.
While organizations such as the Peace Corps, City Year, and philanthropic service trips have been touted for their potential for personal growth, the opportunity for professional growth should not be brushed under the rug. Whether you are working two years in Teach for America or heading to Tanzania to work at a hospital for a few months, here are five tips to get the most out of your time volunteering, while still thinking about your future.
BUILD TECHNICAL SKILLS
Many service opportunities are now built around opportunities to build their technical skills. Doctors Without Borders was one of the first; now options include Statistics Without Boarders, Engineers without Borders and MBA’s Without Borders. Even programs not based on honing professional skills can provide opportunities to develop fundraising, public speaking, editing, and a wide range of other skills. Choose a program that you are not only passionate about, but one that can help you develop into someone future bosses will want to hire.
EXPAND WORLD VIEW
I know a lot of people come back from their international service trips feeling super inspired/obsessed with other cultures/convinced it’s legit that they now want to wear “traditional ethnic” clothing. While respectful and informed appreciation of other cultures is great, that’s not really what I’m talking about here. By working with other people outside of your usual comfort zone, in the U.S. and abroad, you are going to learn new ways to communicate, collaborate, and solve problems.
– via Forbes
Quotes To Inspire Leadership
And learning new skills is just the tip of the iceberg. Acting on the needs of others can catapult a person into a place of renewed strength. Just consider these wise words from world leaders whose success has given them a permanent place in history.
“Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.” – Jack Welch
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” – Martin Luther King
“If you think you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right.” – Henry Ford
“Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.” – Charles Swindoll
“To handle yourself, use your head; to handle others, use your heart.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
– via Addicted 2 Success
The Greatest Success Comes From Helping Others Succeed
Many people don’t realize this until they experience first-hand just how empowering it can be to help someone else, or even many someone else’s. This type of investment of your time and energy pays lasting dividends in your work, in your personal life, in your community – and, if you ask me, in your soul.
Our greatest successes in life are often found in helping others succeed. Our most lasting and fulfilling achievements are often earned by helping others fulfill theirs.
This is foreign thinking to a culture that often sees the world as one giant competition.
It assumes there is a finite sized pie – that one more success in another’s life equals one less success in mine. But quite frankly, this thinking is incorrect.
There is wonderful freedom and grace in realizing the size of the pie is not finite – that in reality, the pie keeps growing. Another’s success does not mean I have less opportunity. In fact, another’s success can actually be my success if I had opportunity to enable, encourage, and promote them along the way!
Consider how helping another achieve success (however you/they decide to define it) results in significant benefits in a number of directions:
- The receiver has reached a far greater potential than they could have on their own.
- The world has been bettered and has been given a life-giving model to emulate.
- The giver is remembered fondly and is often publicly (and privately) thanked for their contribution.
- A stranger is likely to be the recipient of the original receiver “paying it forward.”
- And the cycle begins again.
– via Becoming Minimalist
World-renowned leadership teacher Zig Ziglar often said, “You really can get everything you want in life if you help enough other people get what they want.” The truth of this concept has rung true over and over again in all facets of life and business. So ask yourself this: what are you doing to help others this week? How can you help someone in your community get to a better place?