Why do you do the work you do?
Why do you volunteer?
Why do you pitch in?
Those are all simple questions that don’t often come with easy answers. But I think that at the heart of the answer for every successful person is “because I like doing it.”
Consider this story:
I have a friend who’s a nun who has spent her entire life working to help the homeless of Philadelphia. She is something close to a living saint. She is a tireless advocate for the poor and the suffering and the lost and the abandoned. And do you know why her charitable outreach is so effective? Because she likes doing it.Because it’s enjoyable for her. Otherwise it wouldn’t work. Otherwise, it would just be hard duty and grim martyrdom. But Sister Mary Scullion is no martyr. She’s a cheerful soul who’s having a wonderful time living out the existence that best suits her nature and most brings her to life. It just so happens that she takes care of a lot of other people in the process – but everyone can sense her genuine enjoyment behind the mission, which is ultimately why her presence is so healing.
Excerpted from Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
Look around your staff team, your board, even (if you dare) your own heart and consider: Is this person here because of their “genuine enjoyment of the mission” or because of “hard duty and grim martyrdom?”
Is their role a duty or a privilege? Are they finding joy in the doing as well as the outcome?
These questions are not meant as an accusation, but as an invitation.In fact, I invite you to have this discussion with your staff or volunteer team. Sometimes, in the hustle of fulfilling the mission, we all need to step back and remember why we’re here. So ask each other:
- What are your favorite days working/volunteering here?
- What about our work makes the tough stuff easier to handle?
- What part of our mission are you most proud of?
- What’s the mission story that lights a fire in your soul and keeps you motivated?
Here’s the thing: When you’re just going through the motions, everyone can tell. It’s painfully obvious when you’re asking for support out of a sense of obligation rather than an excitement for the cause. The volunteer who is there only because they feel it’s their duty does nothing to lighten the load and encourage new thinking.
So channel your own Sister Mary Scullion. Be cheerful in your service to causes that stir your soul and move your feet. And you too will become “a healing presence to all you encounter.”