Before joining the Boys & Girls Clubs of Central Illinois, most of my career was spent in sales and management for large corporations. It was a never-ending cycle, with hard work often rewarded with an increased quota. Sure, the commissions were great. But there was a void.
That all changed when I agreed to serve as acting director of the Boys and Girls Clubs. The organization was having a difficult time finding new leadership amid deep financial troubles. While I had long served as a volunteer, I thought I’d step in for a short time to help out in a more formal capacity. Nearly a decade later, I can confidently say it was the best decision I’ve ever made.
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As I prepare to transition back to the private sector, I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on the lessons I’ve learned during this unexpected journey.
The first was that I sleep better when I’m proud of the work I do. No matter how much my team sold, the clock would reset at the first of the month or the start of a new quarter. Those who had the most to gain were stockholders I’d never meet, my worth ultimately measured in dollars. There was an emptiness in my life that I couldn’t articulate, but I now realize was a lack of purpose.
At the club, our shareholders are the kids and families served by our mission. As the organization stabilized, evolved and grew, I saw the smiles and heard the laughter of some pretty amazing little ones that helped me realize the work I was doing mattered in ways I would never have before imagined. That made all the difference for me and provided a level of motivation I’d never experienced before.