For the next couple weeks I will be posting sections of chapter six of my book, A Day of Hope: Leading Volunteers to Make a Difference in Your Community.
This is a chance for you, my blog readers, to enjoy the book for free.
Making it Happen
We’ve learned how to put together a team, how to fundraise, how to recruit and lead volunteers, and many other important topics. Now you’ve come to the final few steps to actually make A Day of Hope happen. In this chapter we’ll outline the final steps of A Day of Hope because it’s time to piece it together and make it happen. If you’ve read this far I believe you’re someone special because you desire to make a difference in the lives of people.
When you start doing A Day of Hope you’ll find that it’s an uphill battle. Even though you’ll get an amazing amount of satisfaction from serving people, there are going to be tough times, times when you feel that you’ve got nothing left, that you’ve given everything you have and it just isn’t enough. That’s why you need to remember this:
Persistence trumps talent.
When you feel that you’re giving all you got and it isn’t quite enough, remember that persistence trumps talent. When obstacles are getting in your way and preventing you from getting the work done, remember that persistence trumps talent. When team members and friends have abandoned you having failed their promises to help you, remember that persistence trumps talent.
A couple of years ago, I attended a leadership conference where a young lady by the name of Liz Murray spoke. She was homeless as a teenager and orphaned due to her parents, who were drug users addicted to heroine, having died from AIDs. She was alone and homeless at age sixteen living on the streets and in the homes of friends. Liz eventually went on to attend Harvard and received her degree in psychology. At that conference, Liz said something that I’ll never forget. She said, “As long as you keep knocking, someone will say, ‘Yes’.” So no matter how tough things seem to be, remember to keep knocking. Keep trying and keep going towards that vision of what you want to do to serve people in your community.
If there’s one thing I know about life it is that it will test you to see if you’re sincerely committed or just interested, and how we’re tested is through obstacles, problems, trials, and adversity. If you’re going to lead this effort to truly help people in need, you’re going to be tested to see if you really have what it takes to make it happen and bring it together.
As I was writing this chapter I started to think about all the times my persistence was tested. My heart was tested to see if I truly was doing A Day of Hope for the right reasons. My faith that God would give and provide what he had promised me was tested. My trust of others to follow through on what they had said was tested. Our promises to feed people were tested. My ability was tested to the point that I had to develop new skills. Here are some specific examples of when my persistence was tested:
- After my fifth year of leading A Day of Hope, I was so absolutely burnt out that I felt I never again wanted to do a single piece of work for A Day of Hope. My persistence was tested.
- In the third year of leading A Day of Hope, we weren’t able feed nearly as many people as we thought we could. We had promised families that we would provide them with Thanksgiving food, but when the day came to deliver the food, we didn’t have enough. I had to call those families and let them know we didn’t have any food for them even though we had promised that we would. My persistence was tested to see if I could keep making promises to families in coming years.
- During my second year of leading A Day of Hope I was working in a commission job. The good part was my schedule was flexible so I could take the time to do work for A Day of Hope. The bad part was that if I didn’t work, and I normally worked a lot, I didn’t make any money. My persistence was tested when I realized I was sacrificing time and money for A Day of Hope
- The entire operation of A Day of Hope was run out of my apartment for the first two years. I literally had food stretched all over my apartment for weeks. This meant that I took heat from my roommates and sacrificed my own personal comfort for a short period of time. My persistence was tested when I wondered if serving others was worth sacrificing my own personal comfort and the relationships with my roommates.
I can speak from experience when I say that if you can find a way through the tough times, you’ll experience a level of satisfaction and pride that very few people experience. It feels so good to know you’ve done something to make someone else’s life better. You’ll discover more about yourself and realize you have more potential and ability to help people than you ever thought.
Throughout this book, I’ve done my best to give you a picture of what a leader looks like. You might not have noticed it, but I’ve tried to affirm leadership qualities in you. Leaders rise to the challenge. They become taller, stronger, faster, and more determined in order to do what they’ve committed to do. Leaders are tough and face the challenges that lie ahead because they know those challenges are worth the effort to serve someone who is need. Seth Godin, author of Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us once said, “If it was easy to be a rock star, everyone would do it.” Lots of people want to serve and help those in need, but very few are willing to do what it takes to actually help others. Since we’ve established that you’re willing to persist, let me show you more steps to making a difference in your community.
Question: What is your experience with persistence trumping talent?