“It’s about being a part of something that’s bigger than you but better because of you” Dr Lane Perry
That quote really sums it up. Do I need to say more? It’s not about me. Or you. It’s about what we can do together. That’s why volunteering in a team is so powerful. It changes our thinking in ways attending cannot. “I played a part today” is empowering.
When you attend an event you receive a huge amount too. That’s awesome. But it’s more passive than being proactively involved in helping the event itself to happen. There are definite benefits that come from volunteering and I want to explore that in this post.
Why is this? I think it’s cause we are hard wired for community. Hard wired to interact with others and grow through that. Hard wired to help each other. Yet that’s at odds with sitting in front of a screen impassively or not getting involved. It is in the getting out and the doing that we gain the most. Give your time away to receive back far more. One of those curious paradoxes in life, like the power of smiling first.
So here are some things that I noticed through the experience of volunteering at TEDxChristchurch 2019 last weekend:
The power of my mindset shifting to one of generosity.
Too often I am focused on myself and what I want to do. Standing there welcoming people and making sure they knew where they were going and had all they needed it was a whole different approach. One I’d like to adopt more. How often are we distracted by our phones and urgent messages and don’t take the time to look around us and be really and truly present. To observe the people around us with empathy and be willing to approach them and say, “can I help”? That was my job for a short period and it made me realise just how selfish I often am with how I use my time. I hope that it is a lesson I can retain beyond the day as well and let it light the path of my own interactions with others, whether they are known to me, or complete strangers.
The power of a smile.
Standing in front of the doors and being one of the first people to welcome others it was incredible to watch faces quickly change from “am I late”, or “where do I go” into smiles that were responding to a friendly greeting and smile. It’s such an easy thing to do but how often do we smile? Let the lines upon our face as we grow older reflect the fact that we offered other people many smiles.
The power of community.
Working with others to accomplish something is fundamentally good, Solving a shared problem “find this person!”, “we’ve got to move all this over to that room”, “we need a towel”… there is something about the adrenaline rush of solving problems together. The high fives at the end of a job well done don’t have monetary value, but they certainly do have value.
The power of vulnerability.
The people up on stage are humans. They are scared, nervous, worried – all those things – about how the talk is going to go. Some have memorised it word for word, others know what they plan to say. They are human and you really see that if you are behind the scenes chatting to them – an opportunity that wouldn’t be there if you were in the seats simply (and rightly) in awe of their presentations. Those conversations with the speakers can be as profound as listening to their talks because they show a dimension that you would not otherwise see.
The power of helping out.
It comes back to the quote at the start and it is worth repeating again here: ““It’s about being a part of something that’s bigger than you but better because of you”. What could you be part of?
There is more. Of course there is. But those are some initial reflections when I think back on the last weekend and what I gained from volunteering at TEDX Christchurch.
Of course to end off a massive thanks to those who spent months organising the event itself as I know there are so many logistics to sort ranging from catering, speaker logistics, booking facilities, organising the volunteers themselves – the list is a long one. Well done for putting on an event that was really powerful and spoke on diverse topics and added value to our city as well. There were so many challenging ideas presented it is hard to spotlight just one but have a listen of Matt Brown’s talk when it comes out on youtube… and the haka to end the day too. Good job Kaila, Rebecca, Kit, Johanna, Anna, Hannah, Milena, Gwen, Rosaria, Rachel and so many others … a long list …
Also special thanks Rebecca Robertson for having me talk with David Clifford (one of the speakers) on the Friday night about the value of curiousity. We connected and then recorded a podcast on Monday the day after TEDxChristchurch about various things but mainly the future of education.
What am I missing?
Drop me a line and will expand this post with your ideas too firstname.lastname@example.org