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Pssssst. Guess what? We, leaders of volunteers (through no fault of our own, or wait, let’s be real here. We never even asked for this..) possess an enviable set of life skills.

Hmmmm. So I’m thinking, maybe to offset our low wages, we should develop an immersion self-help class by charging people to come manage volunteers with us for a week. Like a “boot camp.” I can see the ad now: “Volunteer Manager Life Lessons Boot Camp-Volunteer Now For a Boot in Your Psyche.”

What life lessons should we advertise on the pamphlet? You know, the life skills that people want and we developed (mainly out of survival mode but we won’t mention that) through managing volunteers. Just how exactly does volunteer management prepare us for a productive life?

  1. Volunteer management (VM) forces you to confront the status-quo: You will learn to rely on your own expertise and your creativity to navigate a job that is more complex than you could ever have imagined and were never told when you applied (mainly because the person interviewing you probably didn’t know either).
  2. VM shows you how to live without envy and look at the world in terms of concepts bigger than your ego: You will learn to experience personal gratification from others’ successes and take pride in seeing others soar. You will honestly begin to experience a profound shift (almost zen-like) in the way you view the world.
  3. VM teaches patience and persistence: You will learn that amazing projects take a long, long, long time and an unbelievable amount of hard work, even though people may want results immediately. You will learn to see the interconnections that make projects work and develop an intuitive eye for creating lasting results.   
  4. VM teaches you that not everything is as it appears: You will learn that every circumstance is unique and can surprise, delight and sometimes disappoint you, but won’t deter you from being optimistic. You will learn to probe deeply into people’s motivations for the keys to being prepared.   
  5. VM teaches you that people are complex, amazing creatures: You will learn to love getting to know people, to hear their stories and to immerse yourself in their life’s ambitions, disappointments and triumphs, because you realize this is what makes you human.
  6. VM teaches you that being a martyr is a waste of time: You will learn that as you become more proficient, people will expect more and more of you. But you will also learn that being a yes person prevents you from doing your best work.
  7. VM teaches you the necessity of remaining neutral: You will learn mad mediation skills and be able to resolve issues in a respectful, productive manner that honors your mission. These skills will solidify your confidence in becoming a leader who can keep personal emotions in check for the greater good.
  8. VM teaches you that real passion is infectious: You will learn how to use your inner enthusiasm to bring out the best in others. No phony “rah-rah” types here.
  9. VM teaches you efficient critical thinking: You will learn to analyze situations and resolve problems quickly. Your busy schedule will force you to become hyper-efficient.
  10. VM teaches you that you are more: You will quickly dig deep within and find that you are stronger, better and more capable than you could ever have imagined. You are more.

And this is just the “Volunteer Manager Life Lessons Boot Camp” beginner’s class.

Imagine what the advanced class could offer.


this is updated from 10 ways volunteer management prepares you for life from way back.