Sometimes (possibly MOST of the time) the best way to lead is by example… for many reasons. Last Saturday, I took a few hours out of my schedule to do just that – and I was pleasantly surprised by what happened.
We’re actively working on CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) as one way that our corporate values can be demonstrated in the community. Our approach is not new or novel – we hope to “get employees actively involved in the community to provide help in tangible ways”. We’ve had several successful “events” including a gift of sewing machines to local ladies to help them earn additional income, and participation in a charity 10k run.
Saturday, I did something that I hadn’t yet done in Bangalore. I went to the park. Normally, my Saturdays are about “getting stuff done” during the day and spending some time with my lovely wife in the evening. I look forward to Saturdays because I get to “catch up” on things – and my schedule is very flexible… but I’ve never gone to the park.
This Saturday was different. I went to Cole’s Park to meet with friends from Pro-Vision Asia, an NGO that is dedicated to helping people who are physically or mentally challenged. Pro-Vision Asia had invited me and my colleagues from Moog to come to the park for a “play day” with children from the local neighborhood. We were to help lead some simple games and activities for the children. I also looked forward to meeting some new friends on the Pro-Vision Asia staff.
When I arrived at the park, the children were already happily singing songs with Nancy, and two other Pro-Vision Asia leaders. Later, the children (and many of their mothers) heard a simple lesson on hygiene – how to keep from spreading flu and cold germs… and then we helped the children in small groups with a craft. It was great fun to help the kids and to see them just enjoying the simple craft – gluing colorful circles onto their “paper plate fish” – and just being kids. They were having fun with kids their age and creating something colorful – a high point in their weeks (which often alternate between big challenges and the mundane). Their enthusiasm was contagious.
I’m so glad that I went to the park on Saturday. I was privileged to do something for someone else. I went with no expectations – thinking that I should do this to “lead by example” – and hoping that I might help in some small way. However, from my small contribution, just spending an hour or two with the kids, I also received something. I came away with a smile – and some new friends. What a gift!
I re-learned something that we all know (but seem to forget)…
“When we give, not expecting anything in return, we are often surprised at the wonderful gifts that come our way.”