Why I Volunteer and You Should too! || Eps 28 of #InTheLab

Want to find your Superpower? Volunteer for something.

It was back in elementary school, I was a lost little boy. Well, not little, you could say I enjoyed food as a kid and not just “pizza” the whole bloody thing!! This made it more difficult to meet girls of the opposite sex. Enter volunteering.

I loved being a part of something bigger than myself. Personally I think that’s where happiness comes from. When you’re a part of something big that is helping others it gives you an unforeseen confidence. Kind of like a super power. Self esteem is increased knowing that you are an important part of something big. That can be SRC, or for me in high school it was K-team.

K-team was the coolest. We organized pep-rally’s, advertised on the intercom for games (yes we’d sing songs we wrote to get people to our sports games), we did all the fun stuff around the school that the SRC couldn’t or didn’t want to. I loved it. I met some of the most interesting people over those four years.

In University I joined the Business Students Society my second year. The best organization this side of the north Saskatchewan river. This helped me get to 13 conferences over my 4 years on the BSS. We ran events, planned parties, helped students “networking” skills, and generally had a lot of fun. This developed my vision of what I wanted to do with my life.

When I finished University I was in a bad place. I didn’t want a regular 9-5 boring job, I needed to do something bigger. I was reading a lot of Seth Godin at the time, he had a post that read paraphrased “if you’re lost and you don’t know what to do, volunteer somewhere, if you don’t like it you can quit! After all you aren’t getting paid! More likely than not, you’re going to find something you love to do.”

City champs 2014I didn’t know at the time but this was the best advice to give a young kid who wanted to take over the world but didn’t know where to start. I started coaching Volleyball that fall and my life’s been forever impacted by that decision.

Fast-forward seven years and I’m still coaching Volleyball and now I am the president of the Regina Volleyball Club, trying to grow Volleyball in this city.

I joined the Regina Canada Day board just after University. I was on it for three and a half years. It taught me a very important lesson, don’t agree to do things that you don’t have time for. I was done with Canada Day but didn’t know how to leave. If you find yourself in that situation, just leave.

It also taught me the most important thing you can do on a board attract better board members than yourself. 

UofR Alumni Association board-2014-15

The 2014/15 UofR Alumni Association Board (When you’re president you can wear a wig in pictures)

This is what I’ve got pretty good at it I may brag a little. I don’t claim to be that smart or genius at running organizations. I’d rather champion other peoples ideas, work in a fun atmosphere, and no matter what we’re doing, create an impact on people. That attitude works. Don’t be the know-it-all, don’t need to have the last say every time. Strive to be a good team player, be an amazing follower, with that passion by default people will want to follow you.

The worst I’ve seen in the Non-profit world is someone giving 13 years of their life to an organization, the person left and no one said anything special. I couldn’t believe it. This person did so much to hinder the growth of the organization that by the time they left everyone had enough. Don’t be like them. Trust others, empower those around you, hey, we’re just volunteers after all, lighten up.

Today I still get a kick out of volunteering. Whether it’s Pecha Kucha Regina or running a Summer “Big Idea Camp for kids“, giving your time to help others is an easy way to find happiness. Just make sure it’s something you relatively enjoy because there is such a thing as volunteering too much.

Yes you can Volunteer too much…

A lady in Saskatoon said to me once,

“you’ll give your time until you know it’s time to quit, you’ll know when.”

I always thought that was a very peculiar thing to say to a young kid high on volunteerism, I only understood what she meant a couple years later.

You can’t just volunteer and volunteer for no purpose other than to be a good person. That’s not going to end well. You need a purpose, a higher power, some spiritual incentive for you to keep pressing on giving your time. I used to think it was smart to use a “yes man” philosophy when it comes to volunteerism, but that will burn you out faster than grade 8 Jeph finished a Chuck-E-Cheese pizza.

You need to find a non-profit/cause/start your own, that over a period of time you can make the world a better place through that organization. A community basketball program, your church Sunday school, a mental health initiative. Whatever it is, as long as you can make a difference in other people’s lives you’re going to be a little happier.

Find your Superpower by volunteering, but don’t be afraid to quit an organization that isn’t right for you. There is a counterintuitive podcast I just love called The Upside of Quitting, produced by those Freakonomics fellows. It’s worth a listen.

Today on Instagram I saw a post that read,

If you aren’t helping people you’re doing it wrong.

I couldn’t agree more. Help others. Care more. Join a club, start a non-profit, do something locally, show your community you actually care, you have no idea how much this will help you in the future. You’ll find your Superpower if you keep helping people, they will tell you. Trust me, help people and your world will be forever changed.

If you aren't helping others you're doing it wrong