Don’t volunteer for anything!

Little Rock Air Force Base, Ark. -- Don't volunteer for anything!

How many times have you heard that? I remember hearing those words the night before I left for basic training.

It was terrible advice then, and it's terrible advice now. I think our would-be advisors are trying to help us and keep us from getting unwanted, dirty jobs but I think the logic is false. In my experience "dirty jobs" are passed out to the inexperienced, to poor performers and to those trying to hide from the task at hand not to someone who raises a hand and volunteers to help. When we accept the idea of not volunteering for anything, we limit ourselves and our opportunities.

The people who volunteer for the unknown task, assignment or temporary duty are a special breed. They answer the call and by doing so expose themselves to uncertainty. But they also give themselves an opportunity to learn, and they stretch themselves and receive the opportunity to experience something new, to grow and to become stronger. And they also have an opportunity to meet new people who may enrich their lives.

Imagine how many things would be missing from your life experiences if you only did the bare minimums and never volunteered for an unusual or unknown job. One of my favorite points from the book "Who Moved My Cheese" by Spencer Johnson asks what you would do if you weren't afraid.

If we don't accept the challenge of venturing into the unknown, if we allow fear to drive our decisions, we agree to remain at the same station in life and limit our opportunity to embrace change in our lives. The next time you are asked if you want to volunteer, ask yourself what you might be missing by not accepting the opportunity.