I have been volunteering at the nursing home in Leon for a week now. I have read many accounts online recounting how volunteers inevitably feel disappointed upon completion of their volunteer work. They are often not disappointed in their efforts – just that their efforts didn’t lead to substantial change the way they expected.
Even with that in mind, I was starting to feel similarly yesterday at the nursing home. But then something great happened. Rudy, one of the patients there and someone I’d consider a friend now, asked if yesterday was my last day. When I said no, he reacted with an excitement I’ve only seen in little kids – like a little boy finding his favorite player in a pack of baseball cards or opening presents on Christmas morning. He made a fist and moved his elbow backward like a “cha-ching” and said he was happy I’d be returning next week.
It’s a moment I’ll remember always for its simplicity and impact on me. And for the rest of The Happy Nomad Tour I hope to leave my engineering and analytical mindset behind and just focus on connecting with people in a meaningful way. For me, that’s infinitely more important than improving efficiency X% or reducing cost Y%! You can measure success in ways that aren’t quantifiable.
So I guess I’d say I really don’t know if success can be measured when volunteering. Success probably can’t even be defined most of the time. But for sure it can be felt in your heart.