Last time, I shared many of the professional lessons I learned by serving on a nonprofit board. I could easily transfer these lessons into my business life and become a better leader.  As I was preparing that article, though, it struck me just how much I had learned, grown, and changed not only professionally, but also personally.

Not only did my career benefit from my nonprofit board service, but personally I underwent a transformational change. Board service significantly impacted the way I thought and the priorities I set for my life. Today, I’d like to share with you the life lessons I learned throughout this experience.

Life Lessons From Serving On A Nonprofit Board

  1. I felt my life purpose had become about making money, collecting “stuff”, promotions, or recognition. Status was important to me and it corrupted my perspective.
  2. My work was defining my identity. That is a hollow existence.  
  3. Pride had become one of my prominent traits and I was embarrassed to realize that I had lost my sense of humility.
  4. Income and success were my motivators, which meant I spent more and more time at work and less at home.
  5. By modeling my mis-placed priorities to my two daughters, I realized they were on track to holding values much like mine…self-centeredness and instant gratification.
  6. Focusing on trying to help others with very serious problems helped me “get out of myself” during a tough time in my own life. Board service helped me realize others had much more serious problems than ones I was dealing with.
  7. Now, simply writing and mailing in a check to an agency was no longer sufficient in helping others. I wanted to do something more meaningful.
  8. Board service helped me get grounded in reality and out of the little world I was living in.
  9. Discovering the complexities found in tackling society’s problems helped me develop a true appreciation and thankfulness for my own life.
  10. Many of my skills had not been utilized previously in my career, but they were deeply valued and appreciated in the boardroom of nonprofits.
  11. I learned I did not have to have all the answers and this was OK.
  12.  Becoming less judgmental and more aware of what challenges others face every day helped my become a better husband and father.
  13. I came to redefine my definition of success for my life. Now, I devote myself to helping nonprofit boards thrive and create a bigger impact in their chosen communities.

This transitional period in my life helped me become the person I am today. Looking back, I am grateful I followed my gut instinct by pursuing a nonprofit leadership role. I strongly encourage you to consider serving on a nonprofit board if you have even an inkling of interest.

Find a cause you care passionately about and reach out. Board chairs and executive directors are always willing to sit and chat about service on their board. You never know how much this decision could positively impact the rest of your life. Take it from me, it’s worth finding out.

Interested in Strengthening Your Leadership?