How does the statement, “Dare to be Different” make you feel? Does it make you want to dye your hair pink and wear Star Wars Jedi gear to work? Do you immediately want to throw away all your volunteer stats and mundane ways of recruiting volunteers?
Consider these two quotes about being different:
“I want to be different. If everyone is wearing black, I want to be wearing red.” …Maria Sharapova
“Be daring, be different, be impractical, be anything that will assert integrity of purpose and imaginative vision against the play-it-safers, the creatures of the commonplace, the slaves of the ordinary.” …Cecil Beaton
In the first quote, Maria Sharapova talks about the inner pleasure at being different for just being different. In the second quote, Cecil Beaton puts a purpose, an integrity, and an ethic to being different.
How do you view being different? Does it conjure up images of selfishness? Does it impose the stress of wild creativity for no good reason other than to stand out?
Volunteer managers don’t have to dare to be different, because we already are. What unique skills and abilities have you acquired due to managing volunteers? What principles have you discovered while leading volunteer programs? What undeniable truths did you learn from engaging with volunteers?
The tenets embedded deep in our souls are the things that make us different and it is not daring to hold fast to who we are. It’s simply the right thing to do.
How are we, volunteer managers so darned different?
- We are highly aware. We consider all that is around us.
- We have honed communication into an art form. We are communication hubs and can break information down to clear, impacting messages.
- We are Visionistas. We develop talents, skills and passions, molding volunteer engagement to benefit both the receiver and the recipient.
But, along with these stand out qualities, there may be a few things differentiating us that we can work on. For instance,
- We are selfless which may lead to us shrinking into the background and hiding our skill set.
- We have a coaching mindset which may lead to our contributions being overlooked and therefore, organizations miss out on implementing our methods in other areas that would benefit from our expertise.
- ‘We are humble, which may lead to being viewed as lacking in confidence. A perceived lack of confidence falsely implies that you have no confidence in your work.
Being “different” means we have a unique space in our organizations, one that carries responsibilities and opportunities, not just for our volunteer programs, but for ourselves.
The challenges we face are opportunities to showcase the fine tuned skills and talents that make us different. Keeping those talents and skills hidden in the background does a disservice to our volunteers and our programs. It is time for volunteer managers to step out onto the non-profit stage and show everyone our amazing contributions and the ways we achieve those contributions. That’s not daring. That’s what’s needed.
We are different because what we do matters.
How we do it matters.
So, do we, volunteer managers dare to be different? No, because we already own it.
Now we have to dare to show it.