Volun-told. Lessons from Rotary.

I’ve been a member of Rotary for over 10 years.  It is a great organization that does wonderful work locally and around the world. Every year at the end of June there is a changing of the guard, we install a new president and a lot of the committee chairs change.  This invariably means a few positions are not filled via “volunteers” and someone ends up getting “volun-told” to be a committee chair or purchase a gift for the District Governor or buy tickets to a fund raiser. Invariably, it’s the person who failed to show up for that meeting who ends up being selected since, they are not there and can’t refuse.  Lesson learned. Show up for the weekly meetings.Rotary International

This isn’t isolated to service organizations.  This happens at home.  “Pick up some milk on the way home”.  At work, “Cathy will be in charge of selecting an office location in Charlotte”.  At school, “Each parent will be responsible to bring a snack once during the term”.  Congratulations, you’ve been volun-told.  So now what?

Here are some tips:

1. Show up.  Obviously, if you show up, you cannot be assigned something against your will or without some understanding as to why you were chosen.  You have the added bonus of being counted on.  We’ve all been a part of a team, service organization or committee where there were a few hardy souls who could always be counted on.  Show up so you have input.

2. Expectations.  Find out what the expectations are for the duty or position.  Sometimes we can blow it way out of proportion.  Like if we are doing a “garden project”, I might figure I’ll be on my knees for 8 hours digging with my hands in the sweltering sun without a water break.   You might just need to show up with a shovel and donuts and be done within 2 hours.  Make sure you investigate the expectations of the project and your part overall.

3. Avoid the creep.  Don’t let obligations start creeping in and taking over.  There was a point about two years ago when, suddenly, I was on 6 different boards, committees or non-profits.  Did I mention I’m a mother, a wife, a daughter and a full time professional?  6 obligations on a monthly, if not weekly, basis was too much.  Obligations had crept in and taken over.  I had to say “no” and pared down my obligations.  It wasn’t easy but I had to make a decision to stop the creep.

4. Niche.  Figure out your niche.  Where do you do your best work?  We have a member  who does a great job on fund raising.   He is well-connected and knows how to put the pieces in place to make it happen.  This makes for a great, painless fund raiser.  Capitalize on the area you are at your best.  If you love numbers, be treasurer.  Leading? Be president elect.  Baking? Be in charge of the bake sale.  Find the place where you can shine so that it aligns with your skills.  Find your niche.

5. Dig in.  Sometimes you just need to dig in.  Git ‘er done.  Hold your nose and take out the garbage.  Call the contacts on a fund raising list.  Send out the invoices.  Mail the check.  Dig in the garden.  Just do it.  No whining.  No resentment.  No procrastination.  Dig in and get it done.  Sometimes the work is the reward.

I’d like to express all my gratitude to all those folks, whether volun-told or volunteered, who show up for great organizations like Rotary, Kiwanis, Lions Clubs, Chamber of Commerce, Shriners and the thousands more out there.  Where would we be without volunteers to pitch in and serve others?  Thanks for showing up and pitching in.  If you want to pitch in, I’m sure there is a service organization in your area looking for your talents.  Volunteer instead of being volun-told.

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