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Posts Tagged ‘value

Why volunteering is an opportunity.

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VolunteeringActing as volunteer implies some qualities to benefit from such experience. Each volunteer has his own reason to dedicate a bit of time to contribute to any social project. But sometimes, it appears that some volunteers are feeding only their own ambitions. I noticed this by some attitudes, or by some remarks they do. These findings make me think about the qualities people need to have in order to succeed in a volunteering experience and gaining a positive feedback, similar qualities needed in entrepreneurship.

– A question of value: You want to contribute to a better world, a better society. You strongly believe that to subscribe to values is not enough, but you have to act in accordance with your values, that are common values in the project. In other words, you are an actor, not a spectator.

– Contributing to a common goal: Contributing as volunteer will bring you some satisfaction which is probably one of your goal, but your personal goal cannot be reached to the detriment of the common goal. It implies that you have to store your ego in the closet, and acting in a way that each member of the team will gain satisfaction and value, will have the feeling to be a stakeholder of the project, a way that maximize the chances of success. You are working within a team spirit, working with and not against a team.

– Showing interest for other people: Volunteering is an opportunity to meet different people with different horizons of competences and experiences. By sharing each other knowledge and experience, you catch an opportunity to learn something, but you will get also another perception of the environment in which you are acting, you will adapt your strategy, and you will perceive more in depth the finality of your action. Such process can only succeed if you bring interest to other and not if you work only on your own.

– Curiosity and creativity: By living new experiences, you can discover in you hide and unexpected passions. It is up to you to be curious and to use your creativity to realize new things, to build innovative solutions. Moving your own limits and sharing what you do with other is an opportunity for each people to move his own limits too. Remember this quote saying that the only thing you increase by sharing it each other is knowledge.

– Commitment and leadership: Volunteering implies a commitment. The success of a project is linked to the commitment of all the stakeholders. It means that you are volunteering not to pass the time but to make succeed a project and to operate in this way. When you are filling your diary, consider volunteering as a priority, that it means to have an appointment not only with other, but also with yourself. Volunteering has to be a life project and you have to make it work.
In this common activities, consider each people for what he does and for what you can share each other. No question to consider your work as more interesting than the work of somebody else. As said previously the work of each team member will bring sense to your work. Each member work is useful and contribute to the success. Develop and show talents of leadership. Appreciate and recognize the work of others, listen to them, and you will maximize your chance to be appreciated and recognized too.

There are many other qualities we could quote, but time to time, I notice that some people are volunteers for “bad” reasons. How often some people told me that I am “doing this for free”. Yes, the purpose of volunteering is to contribute to a social and common project, not to be paid. And such remark sounds very strange from people criticizing the capitalistic system, and mentioning this as a motivation to cooperate in volunteering projects, but expecting money as reward for a service. Sometimes, in my experience, I had more satisfaction and learned more things by working as volunteer for specific projects than some days in my professional activities.
These people are often too those who attributes the collective success to themselves, and put the guilt of failures to the others. If looking for recognition is legitimate, you cannot gain it to the detriment of the other. It is a question of ego, and often, ego is inversely proportional with knowledge and capabilities.
That is why volunteering is an opportunity when you integrated these qualities. Increase your experience, discovering new interest and passions is probably the best thing you can do to maximize your chance of catching new opportunities, or to face and launch new challenges. It is an opportunity to expand the fields of the possible, to build new projects in other areas. We are not far from what Steve Jobs mentioned in his unforgettable speech at the Stanford university, when he talked about to connect the dots, meaning that you can innovate by making a link between things that seems nothing to do with each other. See your volunteering life and professional life like two things that can feed each other. Consider such experience for the long term effect you can get from it, and contributing to your personal goal, it means to build an interesting and passionate life.

Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

December 10, 2015 at 19:03

Be aware of your skills to live a passion.

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Norbert, former banker, now bus driver.

Norbert, former banker, now bus driver.

At a certain moment of our life, some of us dream to get another life, to switch to another professional life. We dream to do something totally different, something driven more by passion than by constraints. Such decision represents a major change with some consequences on our life. This is why such change happens often after a period of self-brainstorming.

Such changes we aspire are sometimes the result of a thinking process about our current and passed professional experience. All what we have learned to, all the constraints and the challenges we had to face to, our success and our failures are conditioning our future goals and our future decisions. Like on a sailing boat, we adjust our road function of the new cap we want to reach and function of the wind and streams we are meeting. In a changing environment, the need to learn on an ongoing way is obvious, not only in our own professional discipline, but also in the development of lateral competences. The more we learn, the more possibilities we offer to ourselves. Just remember Steve Jobs in his famous speech at Stanford University, explaining that learning calligraphy by passion, he saw afterwards the usage he can do of such skills, by creating fonts for Mac graphical interfaces.

I would like to relate an article I read on the website www.lemonde.fr, about a Dutch, Norbert de Kramer, who switched to another professional career, and so living an old dream. Norbert, who is now 62 years old, was formerly a banker. He started his career within ABN Amro, was credit analyst, in charge of training, and after, director of a subsidiary in Rotterdam with 40 employees. But his childhood dream was to drive a bus. When he was 55 years old, Norbert followed two weeks of training, and later took a sabbatical leave to do an internship of bus driving. When he was 59, Norbert was proposed to take new responsibilities within the bank. He declined this proposal in order to start a new professional life, to start his passion, to drive a bus. Today, Norber is free-lance drive for a bus company. He is transporting tourists, children, sport teams, and sometimes, ministers.

Some of you are wondering what could be the motivation for Norbert to switch from the job of banker to a job of bus driver. He had probably to face huge challenges within the bank, contributing to acquire and increase his competence level, giving him the possibility to conquer higher positions and face higher challenges.  What can he do now with the competences he acquired in his new job? This is precisely the question the journalist asks to Norbert, what are the common points between the banker and the driver? To that question, Norbert answers as follow: “People”.  Beside the fact to drive the bus, there is the communication side with people. The conversation he gets with them. He explains that some of them are surprised by the conversations he hold with them, and his knowledge of English and German languages.

What is interesting to underline in Norbert new life, is the use of skills in another context. Indeed, he is not a bus driver like another. With his language skills, Norbert can speak with people from different countries, and it brings something stronger in the relationship he can have with his customers. Let’s assume that if he looks for information about the destination where he drives customers, he can play also a bit the role of touristic guide.  The background he acquires in terms of lateral competences represents a real added value for his new job.

What we can learn from such experience is the following. If you want to start a new professional project, you will maximize the chances to succeed if your project is driven by passion. But as you know, to start a new project is a very courageous and difficult decision to take. By starting something new, you become a “junior” in your new market.  Beside the fact that passion gives you the strength of conviction, the use of skills you acquired in your previous experience will allow you to offer something more than your concurrent, something you customers will remember.

Another interesting point to mention is that in our changing environment, some existing jobs can be reinvented. Norber, is not a bus driver like another. With his multilingual skills, he can bring something more to the people he is driving, by giving information about the visited locations in the customer language, and it is for him an opportunity to spend more enjoyable and interesting days. In the way Norber is doing this honorable job, this job has much more value. Combining acquired lateral skills in another context is part of an innovation process.

For those who want to change of professional project, it is important to acquire skills and develop talents, to be curious and open minded. Trying new experiences allows you to open new doors to new opportunities, and to build innovative solutions. Be aware that you can value the skills you acquired in your previous experiences, and that it will allow you to live a hold dreamed passion, and reinvent it by adding your personal touch, making that you will be unique, but also authentic.

Picture from http://www.lemonde.fr

Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

August 18, 2014 at 06:09

What is success ?

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Success and perseverance.

Everybody wants to reach success. The question is to know what is precisely success. Have we each of us the same definition, the same view of success? This question needs to be answered in order to know what success is, but also where success is. We reach success when we are realizing a dream. We have dreams we want to realize in our personal life. There are different kind of dreams, and the ways to reach them will probably be different. We can dream to have a family, to have children succeeding in their studies, to travel around the world. We would like also to succeed in our professional life, to have an enjoyable work and to earn enough money to cover our daily needs. This is an overview of what could be success, but does it mean that these things we are dreaming are successful on themselves ?

The success is a question of values. What are the value we are sharing? In our society, most of the time, success is associated to wealth. Bill Gates, for instance, is seen as a successful man by founding one of the most large software companies, Microsoft. But does it mean that the creation of a company is a dream shared by everybody? This is a question of value, of interest. To meet the success, is to meet the goal you are dreaming. Your goal will be function of the value you are believe in and the activities leaded by your values. There is no success, there is only your success, and your success will not be necessarily the success of somebody else. I already talked in another post, about this Belgian theater founder and actor, Michel Kacenelenbogen, who was first owner and founder of a company. His initial goal was to create a theater, and he founded first a company in order to earn money, to be able to create this theater, to realize his dream. He realized his dream, by founding “Le Public”, a theater with an innovative concept, financed by his own revenue and a part of public subsidies, and where you can find a restaurant after or before the spectacle. This was his dream, and this is his success, but his dream is not probably yours and your success neither. The question of values and goals is important, because what you are considering, or what is the society considering as a success, could be only an illusion. I want to mention here an article I read recently in a magazine, about a business man who was dreaming to drive a Porsche. He made a bet that he will have a Porsche when he will be 30 years old. On way, he bought the Porsche, but he realized after that, that he put a lot of pressure on his shoulder and on the shoulders of his collaborator to maximize profits and to reach his personal goal, and that finally, the car he bought was an illusion of success. The success was more in the business he developed and in all the things he learned by building it every day.

By definition, success is something positive, and because success looks like positive, people are dreaming of success, but are often considering the positive side of success. Regarding the two case I explained before, we have not to underestimate the challenges and issues people had to face to reach their goal. To build a company, or to found a theater remains a challenge and a risk. As Peter Drucker quote says: “Whenever you see a successful business, someone once made a courageous decision.” Some entrepreneurs failed in their projects, learned about that failure and restarted new projects in another way and reached the success. The failure you can meet could be part of a success, if you learn from your failure.

And let us talk about your talent. You can reach a goal or a success by expressing and developing talent. Your talent is one of the key components of success. There are some people saying that everybody can do everything if we want. Personally, I do not totally agree with this statement. We can only succeed by doing things we are motivated by. We have also to reach a level of talent which depends of our capabilities and abilities to acquire the knowledge. There is a huge difference between to be able to play piano, and to play as Mozart was playing. Let us remember also another Peter Drucker quote saying that “It is better to work on your strong points to pass from competence to excellence, than to work on your weaknesses to pass from incompetence to mediocrity.”

But finally, what is success ? Success is the realization of projects you are dreaming. It is only you who can decide and determine what will be a successful life. Maybe you will not see it immediately, maybe you will note that things you were believed as success are just illusions. But each goal we are fixing is function of our passed experiences and of an anticipation of the future, based on new values we discovered and acquired. It is only you who can see yourself as a successful person and not the others.

Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

June 2, 2011 at 21:11

Act as an actor for your career and for the community.

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Actor of your own career and of the community

Recently, I read an article about the lack of doctors in Belgium. In Belgium there is a numerus closus in the universities for medicine studies. Only a limited number of graduated doctors can exercise the profession. This could explain the lack of doctors Belgium has to face. But Jacques de Toeuf, doctor and former president of ABSym (Association belge des syndicats médicaux) has not the same opinion about the problem. Based on statistics, he mentions that there are enough graduated doctors in Belgium compared to the number of beds in hospitals, but the problem is that some of then does not want to work in hospital, does not want to ensure permanencies during the week end, taking care more about quality of their own life instead of the quality of life of patients. And Jacques de Toeuf is wondering if these people, only visiting three of four patients per day, are still able after a couple of year to diagnose deceases, if they still have the competence to do their job correctly. As he mentions, medicine is not the same as to sale “tupperwares”. You do not do it when you want.

By reading this, there are two questions to be asked. What are the values we dedicate to work? Work is, most of the time, considered as a constraint. Some people are doing a job because “they have to work to earn money”, waiting the week end, the end of the month to receive the cheque, the holidays, the retirement, ..the death? In a previous posting, I already talk about the importance to choose the job you want to do, the job you are convinced by. If you are convinced by what you are doing, life will be much more exciting, and you will be able to give the best of what you can do. The motivation is an essential condition to stay on the top of competences. In a fast moving environment, you have to maintain and improve your skills everyday, it takes time, but this time has to be considered as an investment, a essential condition to ensure you a sustainable career. If you do not improve your skills, your knowledge, you will come shortly to incompetence, and the chance to find another job will be thin.This is why to do the job of your dream is so important, and is probably the only good reason to do it. As said Confusius: “Do the work you like to do and you will never have to work during your life”.

What I mentioned before is related to the private sphere. But there is another important question and value, needed to be considered, it is your function in the community. Each of us, through the job we are doing, we have a mission, we have to contribute to the community. If you are responsible for customer service in a company, you will take care that everybody could benefit of a good service. If you are a doctor, you will do what you can do in order to save your patients. We have to consider we are playing a role for the community, and this implies the notions of responsibility, respect and commitment. A doctor has the obligation to do all what he can do to save a life. If he has a conscience, he is aware about his duties, and will not try to escape to it. I am used to say that there are constraints in each job. You are free to choose the job you want to do, but remember that the only existing freedom is the one to choose your constraints.

Commitment to act for the community is a value having to be part of our professional choice. Commitment means to have respect for the others. This means that we have to play as an actor for the community, but we have to be first the actor of our own life, our own career. It is only if you try to build a project for yourself that you will contribute to build projects for the other, with efficiency and concrete results. By doing the job you like to do, your working hours are an investment and not a loss of time, and as each investment, you will have a return on it. If you are a doctor, and if you take care about your patients, then they will recognize your talents, and will probably recommend you to other people. Be an actor of your career, of your life and for the community.

Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

September 22, 2010 at 20:26

Development, a sustainable way of growth.

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BP's oil spill, an ecological disaster.

The United States of America are facing the worst ecological disaster since more than a month with the BP’s offshore platform accident. The flow was already categorized as the largest offshore oil spill in the American nation’s history, but the new figures are much higher than the previous estimates. President Barack Obama pronounced a speech, saying it is time to develop the field of new and renewable energies, cleaner for the environment.

But the question is to know if there is really a will to develop such energy field? There is a debate and different mind regarding oil reserves. The extraction of oil becomes more complicated as we have to extract it deeper. The development of more sophisticated extraction techniques shows that we are able to find new oil reserves. But this has a cost, not only on an operational level but also on the ecological level. Money is spend to develop more sophisticated extraction techniques, but have we the full control of the process in case of accident, and are the safety measures always followed? The present situation in the Mexican gulf seems to show it is not the case. As often, companies are focused on short-term profit, forgetting the risk management. Oil generates appreciable profits, but in the Gulf oil spill, the ecological and economical cost is probably much higher for the country, compared to the generated profits on the same period. The balance of such disaster is clearly negative, as the estimated cost amounts to 1 billion usd. This oil spill will have short and long term effects on an economical and ecological point of view.

I would like to make the following comment. Often, ecology and economy are considered as two distinct things, incompatible and with no links between. This is a wrong point of view. Each natural and ecological disaster generates re-construction costs and no added value. In the case of the gulf oil spill, it would have been more interesting to spend the lost money to the development of renewable energy technologies. Research and innovation are an economical motor. The development of sustainable and renewable energies resources provides long terms economical and ecological benefits.

In order to develop a sustainable economy, it is important to analyze the benefits and the risk of each choice, each alternative, but we have also to distinct the difference between growth and development. Let us take an easy example: the growth of the pharmaceutical industry in a country is a good deal for the economical statistics, but it means that the consumption of medicine is increasing, which means that people are not in good health. This is not a really positive situation. On the other side, if the building industry growth is increasing because you build new schools and empowered the education system, this growth contributes to development with future long term economical and social benefits.

Development is the key of sustainable growth. Each crisis we met is destroying values, and the time and energy we spent to recover the lost value, to be again on the start point is a pure waste. A growth based on sustainable value contributes to a long term development, where each step contributes to the next one. It means also that in a development process, each component needs to be taken into account, not only the economical side, but also the social and environmental components, and all these components need to be integrated on a long term view.

Written by Eric Saint-Guillain

June 20, 2010 at 10:27