Volunteer and non-profit work can make a big difference in your career

This may sound like a broken record for those of you who know me, but I keep adding a new melody to the words and I learn something new every time.  I’ll share some more of the details on my most recent volunteer experience so that you can grasp just how impactful being part of a community group can be.

I recently added a short post to my blog about my past year as president of the Franklin, TN Breakfast Rotary Club.  This group of men and women is indeed a special group and I can honestly say that I took much more from my experience than I will have ever given.  While that may sound bad I can also say that every good role I have fulfilled in a similar organization has resulted in the same feeling.  My thinking is that those who work hard and do what it takes will always feel like they have gained more than they have given.  I think this also shows a good sense of humility.  Enough on this, let’s talk about Rotary.

Our Rotary Club has been in existence a little over 20 years and we still have several of the charter members with us.  We have one substantial fundraiser every year and it provides the resources for our club to fund a number of very worthy local and international projects.  As the president of the club I presided at every meeting except for a handful of them where I was out of town.  We meet once per week, every Wednesday morning for one hour at the Vanderbilt Legends Club in Franklin.  Even the venue weaves into the story this year.

Many civic organizations have an ongoing battle with retaining membership.  We are fortunate that we are stable and growing slightly.  A number of factors enter into why this is, but here are the key reasons in my opinion:

  • We don’t take ourselves too seriously
  • We Have Fun
  • We make a difference in what we do
  • We keep busy
  • We try to do different things
  • We are taking the time to get to know one another better

This past year has been a watershed year in a few respects.  We lost a member, Jerry Boss, to death, but not even his death will remove his memory and his contribution from our midst.  His wife, Peggy, has joined us as an honorary member and we both benefit from this.  We also lost a former member, Chuck Clarkson, to an auto accident.

We had our share of positives moments and challenges as the year moved by.  As the president of this club I learned a few things that I will carry with me in my life, both personally and professionally.  Here are the keepers:

  • People say things they don’t always mean
  • Some people need more attention than others
  • All people need some level of recognition
  • Most people will get involved if you ask for their help
  • It is hard to “un-say” something you say to an entire group
  • My best opinions are those I keep to myself

This list has story after story to tie with it, but most of these stories are left unspoken.

Life is a classroom and you have to pay attention if you want to grasp the meaning of today’s issue.  No issue is too small nor is any too large.

Being the president of a Rotary Club was a fun, frustrating, challenging, rewarding and satisfying experience.  Leadership is the same way.  Find me a leader who is not challenged or frustrated and I’ll show you a leader who has not been tested.

Non-profit work and volunteer work can be a great way for most of us to further refine and hone our skills.  Don’t take this for granted.