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Creating Successful Leaders

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As I mentioned in last week’s blog post, I am currently volunteering in Kraków, Poland for World Youth Day. This powerful experience has got me thinking about volunteering, humility, and living a life of service.

The effects of volunteerism can be life-changing. I know they were for my son, John. When John was a young man, he spent some time volunteering in Guatemala, a few weeks before Christmas. Before heading down there, John had carefully composed a Christmas wish list with several items that he wanted.

During his ten days in Guatemala, John lived and worked near a group of impoverished families. The camaraderie of the people and their optimistic attitudes in the face of severe poverty had an enormous effect on him. When John returned home, the first thing he did was tear up his Christmas list, saying, “I don’t need any of these things to be happy. Those people live in a house they made with scraps, have one light bulb in their home, and always have big smiles on their faces.”

What a profound lesson for a young person to learn!

Of course, I’m not advocating that you give up everything you have and live in a shack somewhere (especially in Minnesota during the winter!). What I am saying is that simplicity is often the key to happiness. When you’re not bogged down by the constant desire to want more, you give yourself a certain amount of freedom. You also make room in your heart to focus on the parts of life that truly matter—friendships, family, volunteerism, etc.

I urge you to make an effort to streamline and simplify your life. Don’t get attached to “stuff.” Instead, look at the big picture and focus on that.

And if you have the time, consider volunteering! Instead of writing a check and thinking that you “did your duty,” take the time to really dig in and get to know and understand the people and causes that you care about. Build relationships, develop understanding, and walk a mile in others’ shoes—only then will you begin to understand others’ needs and visions of success and how to help them achieve their goals.

After John returned from Guatemala, he resolved to live with “just enough.” Now, as a grown man, he still sticks by that mantra and does his best to live simply and appreciate what he has.

How will you simplify your life today?

MARGARET SMITH IS A CAREER COACH, AUTHOR, INSIGHTS®DISCOVERY LICENSED PRACTITIONER, FOUNDER OF UXL, AND CO-FOUNDER OF THE TAG TEAM. SHE HOSTS WORKSHOPS FOR PEOPLE WHO NEED CAREER OR PERSONAL GUIDANCE. YOU CAN VISIT HER WEBSITE AT WWW.YOUEXCELNOW.COM

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