Thursday, September 20, 2018

A Clock. Ticking.

When Your World Stands Tough And Weighin' You Down
And You've Had Enough Of This Merry-Go-Round
End Your Resistance To Walls You Won't Move
And Runnin' Through Old Déjà Vu's
When There's No Way Out There's Still A Way Through

Cause Now's All There Is
So Peaceful And Still
In Now You Don't Worry 'Bout What's Happened Or What Will
Cause Now Never Ends
And Now's Never Been
And All Of Your Answers Are Waiting For You Here, Now*

This morning I was waiting at the traffic lights to walk across the busy city road. When the green man came on so did the countdown clock on the lights and as I watched the seconds tick away as I walked a funny thought struck me.

Imagine if we had a clock that could count down the seconds in your life that are left. And you looked at it every now and then during the day. And you saw the seconds ticking away as they must do. Would it change the way you view your life? I wouldn’t mind living a healthy life for another 50 years. Checking out at 98 would be as they say “a good innings’!

My own “check out” clock or watch would be giving me another 157680000 seconds of this thing we call “Life” But what, after purchasing this clock and turning it on it read 31,536,000. That means you’ve got a year.

Now, this post is not meant to be morbid or pessimistic. The intent is actually the opposite. I am just postulating on what difference an invention like this would make to humanity.

I think that sometimes we live as though our time to depart will never come. And that may be having consequences on how we live. Sogyal Rinpoche, writing in The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, put it well when he said “We are acting as if we were the last generation on the planet. Without a radical change in heart, in mind, in vision, the earth will end up like Venus, charred and dead.”

A check out clock, for me, would simply act as a reminder. Imagine living as if every moment is a precious one. It is. Imagine spending every moment in appreciation at everything that is unfolding in front of you right now.

It would make me more aware of the fact that it is hard to change people and hard to change situations. But the power that I do have is to change my mind on people and situations. If I am in traffic hooting at the car that won’t go at the green light, if my plane is delayed another hour, if a work colleague snaps at me, if my kid breaks some precious china, then I have a choice to remember the “ticking” and not react like I might usually and instead with mindfulness decide that I wont waste precious seconds being negative and reactionary and stressed.

I would use the seconds left to give more and take less. I don’t have to be rich to give. Smiles, hugs, compassion, empathy, friendship and more smiles are mine to give away. Every second gives me an opportunity.

I would forgive more. The bully at work. The parent or family member. The friend who let me down. The perceived enemy.

I would complain less. Accept more. The rainy day is just as beautiful as the sunny one. I would tell those that I love how much I love them, more often.

I would recognise that what is not love is a cry for love.

I would read more books that would inspire me rather than spend my time flicking through Twitter or Facebook feeds and I would watch TV or Netflix less. The best stream is the one out in the countryside flowing into a larger river. That, I would watch more.

I would question more but from a place of loving kindness. I would speak more to power for social justice.

I would be even more passionate about the act of volunteering. Deanna who volunteers 10 hours a week in my office would become Deanna who gives us 36,000 seconds of her precious time a week! We should be dumbfounded and in awe at such generosity and more so when we realise there are millions of Deanna’s across the globe!

It will take practice.

We spend so many of our seconds at the workplace. Spend as much time as you can make it a nicer place to be. There is nothing wrong with nice. It’s OK to say hello and chat. You can be very busy at work and happy too. Your toxic colleague need not ruin your day. Be kind and remember that it could be that they are not aware of their clock ticking.

Eckhart Tolle tells us “... next time you say, «I have nothing in common with this person,» remember that you have a great deal in common: A few years from now - two years or seventy years, it doesn't make much difference - both of you will have become rotting corpses, then piles of dust, then nothing at all. This is a sobering and humbling realization that leaves little room for pride. [... ] In that sense , there is total equality between you and every other creature.”

Tick tick tick tick tick tick tick tick tick tick tick tick tick tick tick tick tick tick tick tick tick tick tick tick tick
* Now by Dave Carroll

Now by Dave Carroll

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Volunteer Managers - Step Up and Influence!

I am thoroughly enjoying my current role in the volunteerism world. Working with the largest volunteering organisation in my state, my role is to design and implement a renewed volunteer framework, policy, standards, guidelines and tools. I’m like a kid let loose in a candy store! It’s a good place to be with my career at the moment. I’ve been managing programs and leading volunteers for over 21 years. To this role I am bringing much experience and it’s a learning curve for me also.  It is also empowering to get organisational support and resources for such a big and important project and I do believe that organisations that invest in excellent volunteer management systems truly value volunteering.

It has been a reflective time for me as well. A part of me still misses the day to day contact that can come with managing volunteers. ‘It’s all about the people” is a mantra I often use for myself and it keeps me “real” in my current work.

Personally it is satisfying to be doing this current project and it goes to what we can do, as volunteer leaders, with our skills and knowledge. Too often, volunteering strategy and policy is designed by people who do not have subject matter expertise. While the involvement of HR in a collaborative way, along with other stakeholders is important for project design and input, delivering projects like these without volunteer management expertise simply does not make sense and can in fact be detrimental to volunteering.

Too often I see Volunteer Managers underselling and undervaluing their own skill set. There remains an unconscious bias, to some degree, that they are after all “just” managing volunteers. Yet, we should all know by now how complex effective volunteer management is. We should know how many skills it requires and that a skilled volunteer leader is worth their weight in gold!

What I love about volunteering the most is that it is ever changing and fluid. The volunteering space can be a breeding ground for innovation. The volunteering world is one of opportunity as well as hope. Shifting volunteering trends, customer experience and sustainability drivers require us to build and implement the appropriate standards, systems and processes to support leaders to manage volunteering resources responsibly, fairly, effectively and creatively. As trends in volunteering show, the volunteering marketplace is becoming increasingly competitive. So now is the time to be reviewing your volunteering strategy!

This is the opportunity for Volunteer Managers to step up to the plate. Maybe your organisation does not have a strategy to begin with? If not, it can all begin with a conversation and a chance for you to influence up or across in your organisation. If you have a current framework check to see if it is still current!

I still remember clearly a Volunteer Management network meeting I attended about 10 years ago. Present amongst the large group were 3 Volunteer Managers from a hospital group. They wanted to discuss a new policy their organisation had released about volunteering. They had some serious concerns about aspects of this policy. When I asked if they had been consulted about the policy before it was released they said no and actually seemed surprised I had asked! This brings me to the crux of the matter. It’s not about power and it’s not about status. As Subject Matter Experts we should have a thorough understanding of the history, culture, objectives and priorities of volunteering in our organisations. We are the ones who should have the thorough understanding of the world in which volunteering operates.

I would go as far to say that effective volunteer leadership needs far more than the operational day to day duties that go hand in hand with volunteer coordination. It needs collaboration and design skills and a strategic overview that aligns your volunteering service to your organisational mission. In the process you have the opportunity to tick the boxes of recognition, renewal, and innovation and enhancing the service you provide to the people we are helping in our communities. And at the end of the day that end result is what it is all about.

To sum up I am encouraging you to step up. Volunteer Managers should have the opportunity to influence and impact your organisations volunteering practice strategically as well as operationally.

Good luck!




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