Spoke: Bonus (Philanthropy)
Habit: Aligning Strengths and Service
The Ziglar Wheel of Life has 7 spokes. Over the last two weeks I have written about habits in my life I’ve created for each of these spokes. However, following Michael Hyatt’s Living Forward book, I realized I have an eighth spoke that when neglected, my wheel doesn’t spin. That spoke is philanthropy.
I have had seasons of my life where I turned everything inward and just focused on my personal well being, my family and my career. During those times I felt a void that I couldn’t define. Eventually, I realized that in order for me to thrive, I needed to be actively giving back in my community.
Having community is an essential part of life. Whether you find your community through church, organizations, a club, a sport, a hobby or something else, we have an innate desire to be part of something bigger than ourselves. Over the years, I have been involved in many different communities and filled my calendar with saying yes to anything someone asked me to do that I had a skill set to help…until I reached total burn out.
What I learned was that if I am going to give back to my community, it needs to be on my terms. I needed to find sustainable ways to contribute that were going to fit my family’s needs, my work schedule, and catered to my strengths. My top 5 strengths (using results from the Strengths Finder test) are Activator, Arranger, Connectedness, Futuristic, and Strategic. Ya know how some people despise meetings and just want to get to the front line and get the work done? Yeah, not me. Haha! I love the meetings. My brain is constantly spinning with ideas of how to make the future better. I love figuring out how to get the right people in the room together to make it happen.
So, let’s apply that to the non-profit space. I’ll use a hypothetical example. Rather than volunteering for a shift to work in a soup kitchen, my hour of time will benefit the homeless 100-fold if I use it to sit in a room and discuss ideas of how to make sure the organization is still here serving soup and growing in 5 years, making valuable connections in the community to help get resources, and brainstorming how to make the operations more streamlined. In the past, if someone asked me to help in the soup kitchen on the front line I would say yes because I could. Why not? Anyone could do that and it sounds like a great way to give back. However, just because it’s great doesn’t mean it’s the best place for me.
Over the last few years I have looked for holes in the community that were not being met and used my strengths to fill them. In my previous post on the career spoke I mentioned the strengths finder test. This is another great way to use those results. If you understand your unique abilities then you can not only use them to discover the best fit for you at work, but you can also use it to discover how you can best serve others.