Focus on leave-behinds, not take-aways

During AmeriCorps Week, I wrote about the skills I have developed since joining AmeriCorps and, in essence, how those skills are helping me make my dent in the universe (love this statement from Steve Jobs).  This week, I thought I would briefly expand on another skill that was not covered in my previous post.  I neglected to mention another skill AmeriCorps has put at the forefront of my mind – focus on what I can leave behind when my service year concludes, instead of what I can get out of every experience.

In this day and age, everyone is trying to get a piece of the pie, rather than doing the labor to create a pie for someone else.  Over these last two years, AmeriCorps has taught me the value of focusing on what is left once a meeting is over, an event comes and goes, materials are created, one-on-one conversations end, and partnerships are created.  In each of these scenarios, I ask the question, “How can I make the most of this interaction for the other person?”  I don’t mean to be philosophical or complex.  This question applies to all situations; from formal to informal.  For example, on Monday I met with a Destination AmeriCorps Ambassador to discuss her role in promoting the third annual Destination AmeriCorps event, but by the middle of our conversation we were brainstorming ideas for her to better support her AmeriCorps members and career opportunities after her service year ends.  We could have went our separate ways after fifteen minutes of reviewing her Ambassador position, but continuing our meeting, I was able to help her formulate new plans for her and her members.  How do you think this concept is used in the nonprofit sector?  Other fields of community service?

Being with AmeriCorps has kept my mojo for service going because I am encouraged to pay attention to the needs of others on a daily basis.  Wish I could stay with AmeriCorps forever, but I will not forget the service foundation it has forged.  Otherwise, this professional world will become dull soon after July 31 (when the VM24 year ends).

With that being said, I leave you with this recent quote from Bruce Springsteen: “If there’s not a sense of continuity, a sense of some sort of communal obligation and responsibility, a sense of future involved in what you’re doing…you end up being one shallow, greedy [explicit removed], just trying to get all you can get.”

2 thoughts on “Focus on leave-behinds, not take-aways

  1. This is a great message for AmeriCorps Members (especailly VISTAs). I’ll be sharing this with the VISTAs on my grant. Thank you!

  2. Thank you for your comment! Let us know what kind of feedback you receive from your VISTAS. We welcome dialogue and love to hear from other AmeriCorps programs! Best to you =).

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