Last week, I retired as President of CANSCAIP – the Canadian Society of Children’s Authors, Illustrators and Performers. I’ve spent the last four years volunteering, first as Vice-President in charge of the annual Packaging Your Imagination Conference in Toronto, and then as President, overseeing all CANSCAIP programming.
I’m a born organizer, so I knew I could do some good for an organization that I value. But I also chose to volunteer for personal reasons: to get to know more people in my industry and to practise my public speaking, since I’m an introvert at heart.
I certainly achieved both my personal goals, and I hope that I left CANSCAIP better off. Here’s what I learned from my volunteering experiences:
- The more often I speak in front of a crowd, the easier it gets.
- Listen to people. Fresh ideas can be found through conversation.
- Filter ideas and opinions to figure out what’s next.
- Attend industry events – even ones that don’t seem immediately relevant. New connections and insights lurk there, waiting to be discovered.
- Efficiency is the key to getting it all done.
- Creativity can be stifled by too much efficiency.
- Ponder knotty problems for a few days to allow solutions to emerge.
- Trust that I’ll be able to find a solution, no matter how challenging the problem.
- Nurture the growth of others. Celebrate success everywhere.
- Acknowledge how high we’ve climbed, even if the journey is still in progress.
- Community feeds creativity and personal growth.
I’ll still be Past-President for two more years, mostly mentoring new volunteers. And I’ll try to approach it the same way I started – with a willingness to stretch and grow in new, exciting ways.