Volunteering Moving things forward – some weeks are better than others

So far this has been a good week on several fronts, I have been able to move various aspects of my life forward and in particular the engagement and involvement in various community and social endeavours where one relies of volunteers and the goodwill of others to give of their time and energy to a cause.

Volunteering is not easy, it can be hard, those that give their time and expertise need respect and recognition without fail and also just as importantly understanding around what they can and cannot do and when they can and cannot help.  For those that organise and secure volunteers most volunteers themselves they need the same respect but they also need to understand how not to judge other volunteers.  It is all to easy to judge people harshly who do not deliver or a little unreliable and to apply those same professional standards you use at work to the world of volunteering.   I certainly apply those same standards myself but have to be as a leader more understanding of others who get drawn into volunteering for many different reasons, not all altruistic, such as

  • It’s a condition of their children’s involvement in something that their parents help
  • It is politically astute to volunteer as it looks good
  • It is about an area they are interested in and will get something back from it such as new skills, certification, career improvement  in some form
  • Their wife or husband set them up and volunteered them without asking and now they are stuck with it!!!
  • They feel they need to do it for their children’s, partners, parents sake as it allows an insight into what is going on at a school, care home or area someone cares about

Many of these are far from the Altruistic ideals many claim, but in my experience what ever the reasons people do it, you need to spend time understanding it and adapt your engagement to support that context.  I am also certain that how people feel about volunteering changes over time directly as a consequence of their experience and how people respond to them.  Classic mistakes I see time and time again are:-

  • Judging others poorly because they are not as good or as reliable as you
  • Not being sensitive to the simple fact whatever reasons someone does volunteer they are volunteering and we need to show respect and appreciation for that at all times even when someone acts like an idiot, is petty or unreliable, we need to help them through the stages of volunteering
  • Not saying thank you because as the organiser you feel you work harder than they do, being the leader is about leading and motivation not dumping crap on others and thinking you are working harder than they do

So in simple terms the volunteer needs to be helped through the key stages of volunteering

  • Stage 1  – Saying yes to doing something, anything however small
  • Stage 2 – Doing it and realising it was not so bad and being thanked for it
  • Stage 3 – Doing it again and finding it easier and being thanked again
  • Stage 4 – Fitting it into their daily life so it becomes part of what they do and who they are
  • Stage 5 – Taking on something else, a little bit more and being recognised for it
  • Stage 6 – Recruiting someone else to help as well / ongoing but the first time is key
  • Stage 7 – Taking on a little bit of coordination and leadership of other volunteers (optional but highly desirable)
  • Stage 8 – Telling people about how easy and how much fun it is and how rewarding it is
  • Stage 10 – Understanding the value you are bringing to the cause as a volunteer and being profoundly affected by the difference you can see yourself and others making in the cause you volunteer in
  • Stage 11 – Wanting to do more and offering to do more

The people that lead volunteer organisations or take on big roles within them have to see this as a pipeline of development and have to find ways to make it fun and engaging and help people move through the stages, it’s not a job, income and career are not affected in most cases but actually your family and friends are and so is the community you live in, which potentially is far more important

So lets help people feel the power and passion of volunteering but lets work one stage at a time.  I had a great week as a volunteer and as a leader of volunteers, some of the conversations were tough but I feel energised and enthused by the week just gone.

I am at Stage 10, I am struggling to do more, but on top of a full-time career, volunteering in three distinct settings within my community and my principle mission in life being the best parent I can be and supporting my wider family, I would say balance is getting there.

Advertisements

The challenge of modern society

Every noticed how people are busy making lists of things they are going to do, or talking about what they are going to do or interested in that needs investigation.

All sounds terribly intellectual and clever but hidden behind this is a simple fact that people have to a large extent lost the love of execution, by which I mean actually doing things, writing a document, reading an article, researching something, forming an opinion, making a difference, contributing or delivering on commitments.

I think this is a corporate and social malaise that is causing waste, delays and fails on so many fronts as people have lost the make it happen spirit. I this a by product of employing people from University where they have acquired a sense of self importance devoid of outcomes beyond studying to get the right degree to get into the right graduate programme or is it corporate culture that wants yes people who simply work to earn to live versus see work as a fundamental part of who they are. Work is part of and individuals contribution to society, growth in the economy and general improvement in all things, self esteem, self awareness and fulfilment.

We are increasingly seeing employers seeking people with real experience who can turn up and work, by which I mean produce something, do something, be happy to follow when asked, happy to lead but above to produce things not just talk about it in self congratulatory terms demonstrating their prowess with the English Language and access to arcane knowledge and terms that are largely inaccessible to most people.

We need a simple charter for the future

  • Understand what is need
  • Think about who to achieve it
  • Act on those steps and deliver
  • Measure the result for satisfaction and outcomes
  • Value delivery and execution above pontification, expect people to be responsible and accountable

If what a person doing cannot be defined in SMART terms we should be saying stop until you can.

I don’t want to kill thinking, what i want to do is inspire people to execute and learn the joy of making things happen

Humour brings out insights and home truths

These types of email articles are very funny but they speak to a deeper tension in relationships and home life, truth wrapped up as humour can be a powerful learning tool but it can also cause hurt and distresss.

So for my part I will be mindful of how thoughtless people can be how different we all are and how a single word or act can create unnecessary tension and pain.  And so it is true of the same that one word, one act, one thought can create great joy and happiness, i will leave you to decide on this one

It all began with an iPhone… 

March was when our son celebrated his 17th birthday, and we got him an iPhone. He just loved it.
Who wouldn’t?

 iphone

I celebrated my birthday in July, and my wife made me very happy when she bought me an iPad. ipad

Our daughter’s birthday was in August so we got her an iPod Touch.

 ipodcollection

 
My wife celebrated her birthday in September so I got her an iRon.
 iron

It was around then that the fight started..
 
What my wife failed to recognize is that the iRon can be integrated into the home network with the iWash, iCook and iClean.
 
 
This inevitably activated the iNag reminder service.
 
I should be out of the hospital next week!! 
 
 ihurt

 

 

 
iHurt

Isn’t it amazing

Just when you are looking forward to a break, one you feel you need and in fairness probably deserve even by you own exacting standards, the very people you hoped to spend the time with during the break decided that the agenda for the break has shifted and they want to discuss weighty matters or try and address longstanding semi intractable problems just when you would rather leave all that behind for a period of R&D.

Well I have a few days to manage expectations and try and align everyone’s goals, he is hoping for harmony

The Wooden Bowl

I hope you will remember the tale of the Wooden Bowl tomorrow, a week from now, a month from now, a year from now.

A frail old man went to live with his son, daughter-in-law, and four-year-old grandson.

The old man’s hands trembled, his eyesight was blurred, and his step faltered.

The family ate together at the table. But the elderly grandfather’s shaky hands and failing sight made eating difficult.. Peas rolled off his spoon onto the floor.

When he grasped the glass, milk spilled on the tablecloth.

The son and daughter-in-law became irritated with the mess.

‘We must do something about father,’ said the son.

‘I’ve had enough of his spilled milk, noisy eating, and food on the floor.’

So the husband and wife set a small table in the corner. there, Grandfather ate alone while the rest of the family enjoyed dinner. Since Grandfather had broken a dish or two, his food was served in a wooden bowl. When the family glanced in Grandfather’s direction, sometimes he had a tear in his eye as he sat alone.

Still, the only words the couple had for him were sharp admonitions when he dropped a fork or spilled food. The four-year-old watched it all in silence.

One evening before supper, the father noticed his son playing with wood scraps on the floor. He asked the child sweetly, ‘What are you making?’ Just as sweetly, the boy responded, ‘Oh, I am making a little bowl for you and Mama to eat your food in when I grow up. ‘ The four-year-old smiled and went back to work.  The words so struck the parents so that they were speechless. Then tears started to stream down their cheeks.. Though no word was spoken, both knew what must be done.

That evening the husband took Grandfather’s hand and gently led him back to the family table.

For the remainder of his days he ate every meal with the family. And for some reason, neither husband nor wife seemed to care any longer when a fork was dropped, milk spilled, or the tablecloth soiled.

On a positive note, I’ve learned that, no matter what happens, how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow.

  • I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he/she handles four things: a rainy day,the elderly, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights.
  • I’ve learned that making a ‘living’ is not the same thing as making a
  • ‘life.’
  • I’ve learned that life sometimes gives you a second chance.
  • I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with just absorbing things. You need to be able to give something back sometimes.
  • I’ve learned that if you pursue happiness, it will elude you.  But, if you focus on your family, your friends, the needs of others, your work and doing the very best you can, happiness will find you.
  • I’ve learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision.
  • I’ve learned that even when I have pains, I don’t have to be one.
  • I’ve learned that every day, you should reach out and touch someone.  People love that human touch – holding hands, a warm hug, or just a friendly pat on the back.
  • I’ve learned that I still have a lot to learn.
  • I’ve learned that you should pass what insights and learnings on to everyone you care about.

FRIENDSHIP CANDLE

THE DATE THE CANDLE WAS STARTED

This candle was lit on the 15th of September 1998

Mobile phone creating isolation in a crowd

Have you ever watched families out together on holidays at restuarants or some form of social endeavour?

The kids are glued to their mobile / smart phones playing games, texting or posting to facebook about bored they are being draggef out by their loving parents fed and clothed for free and still being treated like children who love their parents as opposed to those that scoff at the very people payinf for the mobile phone they use to denigrate them.

So this is the erosion of nuclear families not by communist collective or free love campaigns but by mobile phones the isolation tank for the crowded room

Perhaps we need tobe teaching kids the power of stopping looking around and seeing what is really there

Watching someone be unstable is not fun

I am living with someone who is loving, kind and helpful, except when they are tired, hungry or under pressure. Its not fun and i am trying a variety of approaches to protect myself and others from the experience. Remaining calm in spite of the outbursts, unreasonable behaviour and hurtful things almost seems to make it worse.

The fundamental issues from my perspective are that they seem to

  1. Need to blame someone else for the situation they are in
  2. Cannot see their own contribution to the situation
  3. Fail to see how immature they are being
  4. Be destructive
  5. Unable to calm down

But give it an hour or so and they are back to a lovely person and seemingly contrite about their outburst, but if you try and get them to discuss it and reflect on it in any meaningful sense it causes huge defensiveness and the risk of it going off again, there is always exscuses and reasons, hardest week, hardest day, unusual situation.

My worry is what should I do, it is depressing me, affecting others and I it is affecting someone I love