Skip to main content

the Presence Point

Doing Good Work

photo credit: mariateresa toledo Autunno al parco via photopin (license)

Doing Good Work

Doing good work is something most of us aspire to. But how do we do that when we are not being paid and therefore motivated by a paycheck? How can we show up as leaders even if we’re “only a volunteer”?

Article requested and inspired by Claudia Pringles, Estate Attorney

The first snow of late autumn has descended upon this small valley in Northern Vermont and already I see evidence of neighbors doing good work for each other. Someone comes out with a broom to sweep the slippery steps and someone else is busy raking up the leaves off the sidewalk so that when more snow comes it will not be so icy. These are natural things we do for one another, this kind of volunteerism. We want to see our friends, family and community safe and happy.

But what about when we step beyond our neighborhood and out into a larger arena of volunteering? How do you feel confident about pursuing a particular passion through volunteering? Can you put your efforts into helping a local non-profit who is doing a project and needs some help and find fulfillment?

As someone who has been involved in volunteering for literally 3 decades (since I was 10 years old, in fact!), and having taught many, many others how to engage in volunteer projects, I wanted to offer this simple checklist to you as you navigate your volunteer world.

  • Inner Purpose: Feel into your heart. Are you connected with the core purpose of why you want to volunteer your time? Once you are clear with your inner purpose, you can ensure that your activities meet and match that vision.
  • Outer Purpose: Contemplate the purpose of the organization or group effort you are going to be volunteering with. Do you understand and embrace it? Does this outer purpose align with your inner purpose? If so, then go for it!
  • Efficient Action: By engaging in activity that we are connected to, we want to be efficient in how we proceed. We don’t need to waste time trying to change the mission of the organization, but rather are able to harness the power of that mission to do the good work that needs to be done - even if that is as simple as changing a lightbulb or cleaning a toilet. By seeing how our small action supports the larger mission, we are able to magnify the benefits of our activity. We actually feel good about what we are doing!
  • Connection: Are we connecting with others? Is there a sense of shared purpose and therefore camaraderie? Are we able to ride through any irritations that arise and come back to that sense of a shared purpose and vision? We can use connection for the benefit of ourselves and others.
  • Fulfillment: Fulfillment in work means we are being fed on a deeper level by our work. When we have connected to the vision and purpose of the work and connected with others, and accomplished even a small amount of good work, there is often a sense of joy and satisfaction.

Volunteering through connection to shared purpose is the hub that spins the wheel on so many meaningful and necessary projects to benefit our society. I mean, it’s up to you - you could show up and grumble about the job that you have to do, or you could reach inside and find inner fulfillment in what you do! Doing good work can be very simple indeed.

Sarah Lipton founded The Presence Point, LLC to support leaders as they pursue good work in the world. To learn more about what she is up to, visit her website: