Tuesday, August 11, 2009

I show up

“The world is run by those who show up”

August is back to school for kids around the country and for many of us it also represents getting back into full gear with volunteerism. My passion is Scouting and I have been serving as an active volunteer since my son joined as a Webelos in the fall of 2006. I can say these years of serving have been a real source of joy in my life. Don’t get me wrong. It is not easy, usually thankless and has involved not only time working with the youth but many days of adult training and behind the scenes work. The BSA has some of the best leader training programs of any non-profit and most of the front line work is done by Volunteers.

When I talk to others about getting involved the typical response is “I don’t have the time” or “I don’t have the skill”.

Don’t have the time?

Whew who does really! Most if the people I know who volunteer are people of great responsibility in their work lives as well as their personal lives. Funny how it seems at times the most effective volunteers are those who are already living some of the busiest lives around. These folks tend to be master planners that have learned over time to prioritize activity around work, family and serving. The key is balance and to not let things get too out of whack in any category. Are you already at soccer anyway every week? Then do some work while you are there! Same goes for your church and other organizations you are frequenting anyway.

Don’t have the skill?
Really this starts with passion and most of the time the skill will come. I have in the past volunteered with great passion in some areas and then quickly realized that it was not a good fit for my personality or skill. This sometimes comes with some disappointment but I have come to realize these times were a kind of training on my way to find my real fit. The key here is to realize soon that you need to move on before getting stuck in a role that does not excite you.

Why do it? The Pareto Principle tells it that 80% of the work in any organization is done by 20% or less of the people. By choosing to be in that 20%, you are enhancing the lives of others and making a difference in this world. Yes, there are people who truly do not have the time. Give these folks the gift of yours. The single moms, struggling family, kids at soccer, seeking visitors at church, and the world will be better because of YOU!

Find something that excites you and get involved!

Tell us your passion. What organization(s) do you volunteer for and why? Maybe your comment will encourage someone to get started.


  1. I show up too!

    If it's important enough to you, you make the time. I learned that if you sit back and wait to be asked, you may be sitting on the sideline for a long time.

    Don't be afraid to jump in with both feet. I did that with Scouting, and with Little League coaching.

    I became a soccer coach when my son was 4, because no one else would step up. I had never played soccer, or actually watched a soccer game in my entire life. But I looked at it this way: I may not know much about soccer, but I know more than this group of 4 year old boys. Then I went to the library and checked out some books about soccer coaching.

    And I loved every minute of it.

  2. I just finally got to read this. Pathetic I know!

    I volunteer because I think if I don't do it then who will? I know we have a lot of great people in this world but I know me best.

    I really do it for my kids. It gives me more time with them and they will be better for it later.

    Great post David!