I do like the good things in life. But I have come to understand that there is a far more satisfying currency than Naira, or U.S.“Benjamins.” It is called the currency of loving service.
I feel deeply the words offormer American President Woodrow Wilson, “You are not here merely to make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world.” When I offer service to another human being, I receive incredible returns, priceless ones. The inner richness I experience from making a difference in a person or a community’s life is truly satisfying.
Stephen Covey in his best-selling book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People suggests as Habit 4 that we should “Think Win-Win.” He says, “Most of us learn to base our self-worth on comparisons and competition. We think about succeeding in terms of someone else failingthat is, if I win, you lose; or if you win, I lose. . . .Win-win sees life as a cooperative arena, not a competitive one. Win-win is a frame of mind and heart that constantly seeks mutual benefit in all human interactions. Win-win means agreements or solutions are mutually beneficial and satisfying. We both get to eat the pie and it tastes pretty darn good.”
It is remarkable what happens when we stop worrying about who gets “credit” for work and, instead, collaborate for the greatest progress possible. That’s what people who work together in a spirit of volunteerism dothey team up for the good of society.
As I thought about the topic of volunteerism, it struck me that it is more than “Win-Win”: it is a “Triple-Win” scenario. Let me explain.
Win Number One: Volunteering is a win for the organization you work with. They can accomplish the goals they have for their constituents when the people they serve are helped.
Win Number Two:
Volunteering is a win for your community and nation. The efforts of organizations country-wide provide vital services that contribute to the development and sustenance of a nation.
Win Number Three:
Volunteering is a major win for the person who volunteers. Not only does it offer a sense of fulfillment, it gives you great professional and personal development while allowing you to gain skills, grow your network and enrich yourself as a person. “It is one of the most beautiful compensations of this life that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself” (Ralph Waldo Emerson, American lecturer, essayist and poet).
1. Build your current skills; learn new ones. Volunteers find themselves on projects of all kinds that stretch them.You may be asked to set up or run events, fix or serve food, join a crew building or doing renovations, write, keep records or work with computers, make announcements orsupervise other volunteers. ObalimEsedebe, a 26-year-old Nigerian banker with Finbank, told me, “At the age of 9, I was made a children’s group leader (Block Rosary Crusade) where I volunteered with a mission of helping other children.
With constant speaking and coordinating, I developed very good communication skills and leadership ability. Today, anywhere I find myself, I am always put at the helm of events being planned. Even in my work place I am always put in a position of responsibility. Volunteering has helped me personally and professionally.”
2. Meet new people; grow your network. If you are lonely and craveconnection to others, find a church, a non-profit, a student-led group or some other service-oriented organization you can join and meet people of like mind and heart. Volunteering is an antidote for loneliness. Building a solid network often leads to new friendships and professional opportunities!
3. Build your resume; get needed referrals from organization leaders or sponsors. If you are finding it challenging to get a job, a great way to continue your skill building and strengthen your CV is to volunteer. Many businesses and corporations favor job applicants with a record of serving others.
4. Fulfill your responsibility to humanity. You have been born into a community. You are part of the human family. As Muhammad Ali said, “Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on Earth.” Each us share the responsibility to get involved in progressive positive change.
You are here not just for survival or selfish accumulation, but to find a way to use your unique talents and perspectives to improve our world. Don’t sit and wonder why things aren’t getting done. In the words of actress Lily Tomlin, “I always wondered why somebody didn’t do something about that. Then I realized I was somebody.”
5. Turn your problems or passions into purpose. Look at the challenges, the problems that get you most upset. Think about the personal successes or tragedies you have experienced. Then turn them into a passion and purpose for improving your community and your nation.Consider these inspiring examples. After losing his father and two brothers due to inadequacies in Nigeria’s health care delivery services, Dr.Femi Olaleye left a lucrative medical practice in Great Britain to set up clinics offering low-cost healthcare to the poor in Lagos(http://www.wishforafrica.org).
Eyo Effionge who won a college scholarship to a U.S. University with his talent and passion for basketball, came to see the power of sports for youth leadership development. After a successful college career, Eyo set up and runs the African Basketball (ABO). ABO’s mission is to develop future leaders through sports (http://africanbasketballonline.com/).
Ogo Maduewesi woke up one day in 2005 to find that the right side of her lip had turned from black to white. Her life had forever changed. She was later diagnosed with a condition called Vitiligo, an autoimmune disorder. She set-up the Vitiligo Support and Awareness Foundation (VISTAF) to educate the public about Vitiligo and to offer extensive support to persons in Nigeria living with Vitiligo (http://www.vistaf.org).