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GO AHEAD, BE SELFISH…VOLUNTEER

By Tara Harrington

Hello. My name is Tara. And I am selfish person. It’s true; maybe not at the level Ebenezer Scrooge, but I’m very egocentric none-the-less. I volunteer because it makes me a better employee.

Oh, don’t get me wrong, the heart of my volunteering is inherently good in nature: to help others, to give back to my community, and, without fear of sounding cheesy…to make the world a better place. You assume that all the items you donate go to someone who is truly in need and it makes a difference, and even though you don’t get to have a conversation, you see the gratefulness on folks faces when they pick up food at a local food pantry. That is the soul of all volunteering; it’s the right thing to do and it changes other people’s lives.

But I’ve found that when volunteering, the person that is affected for the better, 100% of the time guaranteed is…myself.

Think about it. By volunteering, I’m gifting myself with fresh ideas, new viewpoints, inspiration, energy, passion and compassion; all of which I can’t help but carry with me to work and hand out like orange slices at my nephew’s tee ball game.

I’ll sum it up my selfish benefits in four points: Perspective, motivation, kindness and reboot.

I gain perspective after I volunteer.
The little things that seemed to bother me at work, got under my skin, or set my day off on the wrong path end up being just that. Little things. It sounds unconnected, but the different point of views I’m able to learn from when volunteering allow me to go to work on a task and put those unhelpful distractions aside and focus my efforts, my emotions on what really will allow me to succeed.

I am more motivated at work after I volunteer.
Often I don’t regularly take stock in how good I have it. Job and career opportunities are certainly achieved by hard work…but it also takes a little luck sometimes. And when I take a moment to realize that others may not have the same chances I have had, it provides me with a bit more purpose as I go to work every day. Purpose to stick to my commitments, purpose to be my best self and bring my best work to every project.

I am kinder and more open at work after I volunteer.
Ever hear of the 1 in 3 kindness effect? By doing just one act of kindness (lets go with the theme and say just 1 hour of volunteering), you affect 3 people for the better. 1) You 2) the person who is the recipient of your kind act, and 3) the innocent bystander who is witness to the kind act (more often than not, encouraging them to also be kind). We’ll focus on the first…You. From doing an act of kindness, I lower my stress level, my anxiety, even my blood pressure, and increase my happiness and energy. So even if no one at work witnessed my kind act, if I bring the benefits of kindness to work, and just possibly do something kind for just one other person in the office (because I’m now hooked on the high), well if that’s not something that ends up spreading like the plague, I don’t know what will. Lower stress and higher happiness = more productivity. Simple math.

I get a mental reboot and more refreshed at work after I volunteer.
In this day and age, many of us take work with us where-ever we go. This includes constantly being plugged in on the weekends. This tends to leave most of us numb to work. When is there truly time off? Well, when you volunteer, of course.

When you volunteer you typically aren’t checking email, responding to a slack message, or actively trying to come up with a realistic product roadmap. You are tuned in to the good work you are doing hands on, collaborating as part of a volunteer team or interacting one-on-one with the person you are there helping. Even if it’s for a short time, you get a mandatory forced break from work; a hard-mental reboot. And 99% of the time when folks get a pause in the intense brain drain or monotony of a task, they come back to it later and are more refreshed, have more patience, are more creative and are ready to sit down and solve the problem at hand.

And this is not just an action call for the many of us who call ourselves employees…business leaders, I’m speaking directly to you. I cannot undersell the importance of not only promoting the opportunity of being a better employee by volunteering but being selfish yourselves and doing it too. Set a precedent; set an example. Bring perspective to your leadership, get motivated with your company’s goals, bring focus back to your organization’s objectives and spread kindness in your own company from the top down.

So, moral of my story? All of these things and more can be yours. If you are only a little selfish.

Get out, volunteer, and yes, make your workplace (and the world) a better place!

I am proud to be part of Three Wire Systems, a company that cares about giving back to their community by serving those who serve others. #ThreeWireCares

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