I hope you and your families are staying healthy and safe. I wish I had even a penny for every time I heard, “there are just not enough hours in the day to add even one more thing to my plate”. I get it! We are all trying to juggle careers, family, friends, etc. and at times it can feel overwhelming. But we all make time for what is important to us and that which we prioritize. Today, we are all in the same boat – trying to social distance, dramatically changing our daily routines and fighting off the boredom and monotony. What is keeping me sane is the added activity I have with my volunteering. Volunteering? Who has time for volunteering?
The answer to that should be EVERYONE! “I just don’t have the time” doesn’t cut it. An article in HBR, “The Strategic Side Gig” discusses the significant benefits of volunteering which may be different than you think. I have personally had at least two “side gigs” in addition to my “normal” (that’s gone forever) life for over 30 years. Those gigs have changed over the years, but they have been among the most rewarding experiences of my life. One of my early gigs was joining the working board of a domestic violence agency (that was 28 years ago) and I’m still there today. I am also on the Board of Trustees of my Alma Mater (a small private University) which today is dealing with the dozens of issues all higher learning institutions are facing during this pandemic. What a tremendous learning experience it has been in addition to being a huge privilege.
What are the benefits of a “side gig”? My objective was to “give back” but I have always gotten more than I’ve given:
- Working outside my comfort zone
- Using my skills to make a difference
- Making life-long friends that I would never have met
- Recharging my energy
- Making me grateful for what I have
- Learning numerous new skills
- Working in a team environment with diverse people
- Building a broader global perspective
- Playing a variety of leadership roles
- Setting a positive example for my children
- Getting away from my spouse (just joking . . . )
I want to share some of the examples of volunteerism during this pandemic that I have seen from my personal circle that will inspire me to do more (my husband won’t be happy 😊 . . .). Our office manager has always given back, but he’s added streaming mass several times over the weekend to support his local church and running errands / buying groceries for his elderly neighbors to his already busy schedule. One of my consulting colleagues who just published a book on digital transformation and is working on two more, saw a need in his local grocery store in Indiana and is stocking shelves three days a week to help keep that small business running. One of my sons who is also a consultant spends his Friday afternoons preparing and serving food in a local soup kitchen where the demand has risen exponentially. These are examples of leadership even though that was not their motivating factor. This sentiment is echoed in the HBR article “It’s incredibly important when you engage in activities outside work that you do it for sincere reasons and not just as a way to self-promote or to rub shoulders with potential professional connections,” says Kathryn Wylde, the president and CEO of the Partnership for New York City, which runs the David Rockefeller Fellows Program.
I would encourage EVERYONE to acquire a side gig. Even though you think you don’t have time, you can find it. The benefits both personally and professionally are innumerable – it WILL make you a better leader and help you move your career forward (Category Management?) but in ways you cannot even imagine. So, stop saying “I Just Don’t have the Time” and get out there and give back!!!!
I would love to here about your side gigs so that we can collectively inspire others! Please join in the conversation, let us know what you think and stay safe . . . . . . .