Skip to content

UXL Blog

Creating Successful Leaders

Tag Archives: World Youth Day

volunteer-1326758_640

As I wrote about in a couple past blog posts (about volunteerism and simplifying your life), I recently spent 15 days in Poland, volunteering for World Youth Day. The experience was powerful, to say the least. Every day, I witnessed thousands upon thousands of young people from all across the world united in a common purpose. But one of the things that struck me most was the warm welcome we received, both from the people of Poland and from the other pilgrims.

As an American, I don’t necessarily expect other countries to welcome me with open arms. There are many ugly preconceived notions about Americans (that we’re spoiled, loud, bullies, etc.), some of which can be true, depending on the American! Many countries also disagree with our foreign policy decisions. With that in mind, I was absolutely shocked when the group of Americans with whom I was traveling experienced nothing but friendly greetings and amicable interactions.

As we traveled through the beautiful Polish countryside and visited quiet, quaint villages that brimmed with amazing history, we were graciously welcomed by the Polish people. They were proud to be hosting World Youth Day and happy that we had traveled to their country to experience the event. Each person in my group did a home stay with a Polish family and, despite language barriers, we were treated respectfully, fed well, and received incredible hospitality.

At the event itself, my group of American youths met and mingled with other youths from 167 countries around the globe. Instead of focusing on their differences and the gaps between them, they focused on their similarities and the things that bound them together. It melted my heart to see so many diverse people hanging out together, eating together, playing Frisbee together (I even saw some nuns and priests tossing a disc around!), getting to know each other…all in a peaceful, harmonious setting.

I think a lot of folks, including our world leaders, could learn from the example of these young people. They focused on building bridges, rather than putting up walls between one another.

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

Advertisements

Tags: , , , , , , ,

hand-339606_1280

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

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

volunteerism and purposeThis past Tuesday, I headed to Kraków, Poland to work as a volunteer for World Youth Day (WYD). This worldwide event takes place every three years and is a gathering of like-minded youth who value service, love, and faith. The festivities are actually held over the course of a week, so the name World Youth Day is a little deceiving. During my time in Poland, I will be mentoring youth from my hometown of Stillwater and volunteering my services to help make WYD 2016 a success.

It will be a long, tiring trip (among thousands of youth!), but I’m certain it will be worth it. I have found that any time volunteering is NOT time wasted. Volunteering is one of the things in life that keeps me energized, motivated, and (most importantly!) gives me purpose.

I firmly believe that the path to a happy life is to find a purpose. For me, that means spending time giving back to my community and the world at large. Even in my work as a career coach, I try to give back to my clients. I approach my work with the mentality, “How can I help YOU?”

Part of the reason I became a career coach was because I wanted to give back. After retiring from my career at 3M, I knew I wasn’t finished. I had spent nearly 30 years building up a skill set, and I wanted to share it with others!

For many people, retirement doesn’t mean “quitting,” it means opening up a new chapter of your life and giving back in different ways. I am reminded of a story I heard of a couple that retired, purchased an RV, and began traveling around the country. After only a month or two, they began to grow bored and anxious to do something more meaningful. At the same time, they also realized that they kept bumping into other retired couples who were doing the same thing—traveling around the U.S. in their RVs. That’s when they were struck with the idea to form a volunteer group with their fellow travelers and do something meaningful at each of their stops.

They decided to work with Habitat for Humanity (since nearly every city has a local chapter) and formed a group called the “Care-A-Vanners.” That group spends one or two weeks in each city they visit, building homes for those in need. And, since they are traveling as a group, the Care-A-Vanners have developed meaningful relationships, while at the same time utilizing their talents and making a difference.

Having volunteered several times through Habitat for Humanity, I am aware of the profound impact their projects can have on other’s lives. My husband (who is a carpenter by trade) and I frequently travel to Clarksdale, MS to help with Habitat’s building projects and we often see and reconnect with the same group of people. I even have a pen pal in Clarksdale—a young woman who I mentor. You might say that we’re accountability partners for each other! I help her focus on her dream of going to college and she reminds me of the very real impact of volunteering and spending quality time with another human being.

Do you know your life’s purpose? If you’re having trouble nailing it down, I challenge you to try volunteering. There are so many causes that need your help—environmental, educational, political, social justice—that you’re bound to find something that motivates you and gets you excited to make a difference.

Let me know how your purpose-seeking is going! Write me a note in the comments section, or send me a message. Happy volunteering!

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

Tags: , , , , , ,

%d bloggers like this: