Earning My Keep

I was recently called out for being a helper in this MPR The Current interview.

Screen Shot 2013-08-15 at 3.56.35 PM
Screen Shot 2013-08-15 at 3.56.35 PM

While it felt good to be acknowledged for service to my community, it mostly got me thinking about how this came to be. Why am I this way? Do I give too much? Could I be doing more? I don't remember a certain point that I started to love giving and helping but I do remember, early on, feeling great when I would help at a food drive at school or volunteered to help a teacher after school. I think I loved the variety and different view that it provided (and getting out of class wasn't so bad either). It was new and fresh and it allowed time to get to know other people that I didn't usually encounter a little better.

This guy, ammirite?

This guy, ammirite?

"Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” —Fred Rogers

For me, giving back isn't a second thought, or something I do when I have spare time. Giving back is something I set out to do each and every day, and after years of doing it, it's built in. I really don't believe that a person can be truly successful without giving back and serving their community and what they value in some way. I am teaching my boys the same thing. We volunteer together, donate time and items to charity, pick up litter in our neighborhood, and always sponsor a family at Christmastime to make their holiday as magical as ours. It's up to me to raise helpers, and model this behavior for others. Additionally, I have a policy to not take work that doesn't have a charitable aspect built in, or an openness to have me build one in.

Fortune is earned.

Success without giving back unbalances things. Now, I'm not entirely sure I believe in luck, but I think that fortune exists. Consider that fortune isn't granted without hard work. My immediate reaction to good fortune of any kind is to donate money, time, or resources and pass that feeling or fortune to someone else. I think this has made all of the difference, and that it definitely contributes full circle back to my success. My life is richer because I give.

Five quick ways to give:

1) Give a cash donation to your local food shelf. We know now that cash goes a lot farther than actual food does.

2) Get involved in a fundraiser. Or, better yet, plan one yourself. A group of us put together this fundraiser for a friend earlier this year. Pool your resources and expertise and get busy.

3) Have time but no money? Volunteer for an organization whose values match yours. Bring a friend. Hell, bring a date!

4) Tried and true: Feed parking meters that aren't yours. I get a roll of quarters whenever I'm at the bank just to keep in my car for this purpose. It feels amazing, and costs so little.

5) Donate your services or expertise to a charity or nonprofit. Social media specialist? Give a short seminar for a nonprofits' marketing team. Content strategist? Offer some guidance on their web presence. Photographer? Capture their office and people.

Please share your ideas in the comments below on easy ways you give back. Then, rewrite your life as a helper. I promise it will come back to you in spades.

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