I’ve been involved with a fair number of volunteer organizations during my lifetime, and I’ve always been amazed at how much people are willing to give. On the face of it, this isn’t quite rational - why would you do something that costs you a lot of time, money and work, when you aren’t getting anything specific in return?
Ah, but you do get something.
First, you may be having fun, learning, or getting some other kind of immediate gratification. This may well be what “sucked you in” in the first place.
Second, you’re making some kind of contribution that you find valuable. These might be spiritual, physical, emotional, or intellectual. Perhaps it’s making a difference to certain people, animals, the planet, or humanity. In any case, you’re often part of a larger purpose which drives your passion over the longer term.
Third, doors can be opened in amazing ways. For example:
- When you’re working alongside other people, they understand and appreciate your abilities and contributions. That may just turn into recommendations for other situations, even a job.
- You’re in contact with more people. The larger your network, the greater chance you’ll hear of opportunities.
- People who share a passion want to help each other succeed, even outside the scope of the immediate tasks.
I’ve been surprised at how many job-seekers finally found employment through connections via non-work-related connections: civic organizations, athletic clubs, church, and other various friends and acquaintances. These networks can be a rich source of ideas, energy, and opportunity.
And, if you’re in between jobs, getting involved in contributing to others can help keep you sane at a very stressful time.
Carl Dierschow is a certified Organizational Leadership Coach and author of the career management guide, Mondays Stink! 23 Secrets to Rediscover Delight and Fulfillment in Your Work. He is a career coach for those going through interesting transitions, and works with leaders who are creating amazing teams.