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.

Time for reflection and rest

I am living in a bubble for a brief period of time semi disconnected from everyday life and responsibilities.  With the age of the internet this becomes harder to achieve as it becomes purely choice by oneself to cut yourself off from all things. Personally a little bit of engagement on the things that motivate and inspire me helps with the work of writing, thinking and problem solving.

The ability to process matters long held in the buffer and turn them around and around to look at them in different ways without daily operational and tactical pressures and decisions sapping time is a good thing.

Is it possible to forget everything for a few weeks, NO in my view, but is it possible to shift focus and change priorities yes.  I sleep more, I read more, I think more flexibly, I get more time on my own.  all good things, but I also get to play more, talk more if I want to and spend time with people I love

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

“Things” happen for a reason … TRUE – Another chain letter well meaning but….

A True story which one wants to share but again it comes with the message you MUST share it within minutes.

The brand new pastor and his wife,newly assigned to their first ministry, to reopen a church in suburban Brooklyn , arrived in early October excited about their opportunities. When they saw their church, it was very run down and needed much work. They set a goal to have everything
done in time to have their first service on Christmas Eve.

They worked hard, repairing pews,plastering walls,painting, etc, and on December 18 were ahead of schedule and just about finished.  On December 19 a terrible tempest – a driving rainstorm hit the area and lasted for two days. On the 21st, the pastor went over to the church. His heart sank when he saw that the roof had leaked, causing a large area of plaster about 20 feet by 8 feet to fall off the front wall of the sanctuary just behind the pulpit, beginning about head high.  The pastor cleaned up the mess on the floor, and not knowing what else to do but postpone the Christmas Eve service,headed home.

On the way he noticed that a local business was having a flea market type sale for charity, so he stopped in. One of the items was a beautiful, handmade, ivory coloured, crocheted tablecloth with exquisite work, fine colours and a Cross embroidered right in the centre. It was just the right size to cover the hole in the front wall.

He bought it and headed back to the church. By this time it had started to snow.

An older woman running from the opposite direction was trying to catch the bus. She missed it.The pastor invited her to wait in the warm church for the next bus 45 minutes later. She sat in a pew and paid no attention to the pastor while he got a ladder, hangers, etc., to put up the tablecloth as a wall tapestry. The pastor could hardly believe how beautiful it looked and it covered up the entire problem area. Then he noticed the woman walking down the centre aisle. Her face was as white as a sheet.

“Pastor,”she asked, “where did you get that tablecloth?”
The pastor explained. The woman asked him to check the lower right corner to see if the initials, EBG were crocheted into it there. They were. These were the initials of the woman, and she had made this tablecloth 35 years before,in Austria .  The woman could hardly believe it as the pastor told how he had just got the”The Tablecloth”. The woman explained that before the war she and her husband were well-to-do people in Austria. When the Nazis came, she was forced to leave.  Her husband was going to follow her the next week. He was captured, sent to prison and never saw her husband or her home again. The pastor wanted to give her the tablecloth; but she made the pastor keep it for the church. The pastor insisted on driving her home. That was the least he could do. She lived on the other side of Staten Island and was only in Brooklyn for the day for house cleaning job.
What a wonderful service they had on Christmas Eve.

The church was almost full.The music and the spirit were great. At the end of the service, the pastor and his wife greeted everyone at the door and many said that they would return.
One older man, whom the pastor recognised from the neighbourhood continued to sit in one of the pews and stare, and the pastor wondered why he wasn’t leaving.

The man asked him where he got the tablecloth on the front wall because it was identical to one that his wife had made years ago when they lived in Austria before the war and how could there be two tablecloths so much alike? He told the pastor how the Nazis came, how he forced his wife to flee for her safety and he was supposed to follow her, but he was arrested and put in a prison. He never saw his wife or his home again all the 35 years between.

The pastor asked him if he would allow him to take him for a little ride. They drove to Staten Island and to the same house where the pastor had taken the woman three days earlier. He helped the man climb the three flights of stairs to the woman’s apartment, knocked on the door and he saw the greatest Christmas reunion he could ever imagine.

True Story – submitted by Pastor Rob Reid – who says God does work in mysterious ways

I asked the Lord to bless you as I prayed for you today, to guide you and protect you as you go along your way. His love is always with you.. His promises are true, and when we give Him all our cares we know He will see us through. So when the road you’re travelling seems difficult at best, just remember I’m here praying and God will do the rest. Pass this on to those you want God to bless and remember to send it back to the one who asked God to bless you first.

When there is nothing left but God, that is when you find out that God is all you need Take 60 seconds and give this a shot! All you do is simply say the following small prayer  for the person who sent this to you.

Father, God, bless all my friends and family in what ever it is that You know they may be needing this day!

May their lives be full of Your peace, prosperity and power as they seek to have a closer relationship with You.
Amen.

The impossible dream – understanding women

You know what its like the a joke gets circulated via the internet and it goes viral, then it comes back round again and again, over the years. what is interesting is how society changes. Typically I have seen sharing about subjects relating to genders go through several  stages

  • Stage 1 Items shared between men or between women but not between the genders
  • Stage 2 Women share items with men, about women. The motivations for which vary depending on which women is sharing to which man.  It can be a nudge to better behaviour or a vote of sympathy.
  • Stage 3 – Men share something with women about men. Motivations are usually a peace offering or a naive attempt to get women to let men be men and encourage tolerance and forebearance of their behaviour
  • Stage 4 Men may share with women something about women. In my view the most challenging option and not to be undertaken lightly

There is a grain a truth in all humour, the older I get the more I realise that this is true and perhaps humour is an outlet for those things we find most complicated and frustrating.

The item below represents a misogynist view of women and not to be encouraged in my view. so apologies to all women for this cynical view.

An over simplification of a man I feel but without doubt the complexity of engaging with some people of the female gender can lead to a sense that no matter what one does it is hard to understand the likely impact or reaction.

Perhaps the image below is a useful one to explain the challenge of not compartmentalising ones thoughts and allowing them to overflow ones day to day thinking. Focusing on what you can fix, prioritising them in the order of importance and finding a way to cope with that which cannot be resolved surely is the key to achieving balance.

The sense that men are purpose and objective driven is clear whilst women like to explore all possible options, which is why there can be real tension when working together.

This is more of an indictment of mans lack of desire to have a balanced relationship, without trying to achieve understanding men just give up and do their own thing and we find situations developing where situations get out of control and imbalance develops of years of a relationship.