My mother used to tell me that if you wanted something done to ask a busy person. There is a lot of truth in that statement. It’s not that busy people can make more hours in a day, they just make more of each hour they have. They manage their schedule by getting things done and off the list. They do things right the first time so they don’t need do-overs, and they tackle the jobs they like as well as the ones they hate. They know their work has value so they work purposefully and diligently.
How many times have we left an event and remarked, “Well, that’s two hours I’ll never get back?” Generally, that means we think our time was wasted. Did we walk in two hours before with that expectation of no value? People who leave an event enthused and excited usually walked in with an open mind and an expectation that they’d gain something from participating and engaging. The event may not have changed their life in a big way, but in some way they found value. The most important part is that they found it because they came in expecting it. They didn’t wait for benefit to fall out of the sky at them.
Most of our schedules would fail the test of a logistics professional. We have too much to do in one day, or we have too little. Our activities lack a balanced cost-benefit analysis, or sometimes we end up just doing busy-work for the sake of the process. Our workload is out of balance. We procrastinate; we avoid. From an academic perspective, our work to be done and time available are horribly out of sync most days.
And then things get in the way! We’re interrupt-driven, maybe managing sick kids at home the same day we have a really important presentation at work, or an unexpected customer with a problem takes up our whole morning. Maybe the storm hit and power went out right as we were getting productive. What can you do? Timing in life is off, always way off. If we could only get that correct, we could say yes to everything. Ah, timing is everything!
Volunteerism has little to do with having adequate time to do one more thing, or having the request come when the time is right. The “yes” or “no” is based upon an expectation of a satisfying result. If you suggest, as part of your request, that “You probably don’t want to do this” then they probably won’t. On the other hand, when you ask them if they’d like to be a part of an incredibly successful project, their ears might just perk and their head nod, “Yes!”
Volunteerism isn’t dead. It’s dormant at times because we forget what motivates people and we don’t communicate well. We make the decisions for them by not asking in the first place. We make assumptions that aren’t correct. Just like a salesman learns, always ask for the sale! It never ceases to amaze me at how many sales I can make if I ask the right people in the right way, even under the worst of circumstances. Now when is that storm supposed to hit?