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Out of Our Minds
Tuesday, April 06, 2004 8:21 AM
I'm Lovin' It
Kevin Salwen on Making a Difference

Last weekend, in my role as a board member of Atlanta Habitat for Humanity, I participated in the dedication of two houses -- the time at the end of the builds in which the homeowner is presented with the new home she will buy (at 0% interest, btw). The events are always moving, as these first-time homebuyers are fulfilling what for most is a lifelong dream (beginning to own a home), and the volunteers have worked their buns off doing the hard labor.

But the person I was struck with this weekend was Rachel Clark, the relatively new volunteer coordinator for the organization. When I asked her how her job was going,

she replied, 'I have so much fun that sometimes I can't believe I'm being paid for this.' She went on to explain that she had always wanted to do something that made our community a better place, but couldn't just volunteer for a living. Now she had a job that allowed her to feel great about improving her community and get paid for it.\n\nIt made me wonder: \n-- Are there jobs in the private sector that are as fulfilling? And secondly, what if we all felt this way? Can't we, shouldn't we, try?

1 comment

Curt Rosengren - 4/7/2004 10:47:15 AM
I think you have to start by remembering that 'fulfilling' is in the eye of the beholder. There is no broad brush definition for it. What feels incredibly rich and rewarding for me might only be a so-so experience for you, and vice versa.

Before you can take a step towards a career that feels more fulfilling, you need to spend some time asking yourself, 'what does that actually mean? What feels fulfilling to me?' For some people it might be getting involved at a granular level with something like Habitat for Humanity where they can see the difference they're making on an individual scale. Others might feel compelled to focus on a higher level, working with creating the systems that allow things to unfold.

And it doesn't have to have a 'social work' focus. At the end of the day, it all comes down to making a difference in a way that matters to you (again, self-exploration required to identify what that actually means). Having a clear idea of what fulfilling actually means to you opens the door to exploration of possibilities in both the corporate and non-profit world.

Subject matter can be an important piece of the puzzle as well. I've heard again and again, 'I enjoy the actual work, but at the end of the day, I just don't care about Widget X.' A change of scenery to a company whose focus is more in line with what's important to you can make a difference.

An interesting question to throw out there to the readers at some point - maybe prefacing it with some examples - might be, 'What feels fulfilling? What would the ideal scenario look like for you?' It would be fun to see what kinds of answers it generates.


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