We’ve all heard that giving our time to a great cause is a good thing, that we’ll get back more than we give if we get out there and help others. So why is it so hard to peel ourselves off the couch and get to work? How do we make serving others a priority?
Start with no preconceived notions. Doing new things is hard, and we all like to be prepared. But overthinking a service opportunity can make us inflexible and too full of pride. Go into a service opportunity with an open mind and desire to learn. As a friend who traveled to Tanzania said, “I thought I was taking the people things to make them happy, but they didn’t need my things to be happy. They taught me that contentment has little to do with material possessions.”
Serve with the right spirit. Be “all in” while you’re there and give yourself to whatever is needed. If the job is to scoop dog poop, do it with a smile on your face. Make phone calls to recruit other volunteers. Stuff envelopes. Recognize that taking care of menial jobs as a volunteer frees up the time of the staff to do big jobs for the organization and take it forward.
Serve to lead more effectively. Helping others isn’t really about you, in fact the best byproduct is that it takes us out of our own heads and away from our own needs. But building service into your schedule will make you more strategic about your time. How many episodes of Breaking Bad do you really need to watch in a week, anyway? You’ll also build new skills and networks, making connections through your time helping others. Organizing an event or initiative for a cause you believe in will spill over into other areas of your life as you develop the skills a leader needs to juggle many tasks and people at once.
Say yes to the next opportunity to help others that comes your way. You’ll be amazed at the way it changes you.