I’m a big fan of “StrengthsFinder” author Tom Rath. So, when I see he’s published “Eat, Move, Sleep” on how to live a healthy lifestyle by focusing on small choices in life, it caught my attention and reminded me of Elizabeth Gilbert’s insights in “Eat, Pray, Love” on one woman’s search to find balance. We’re unanimous on “eat.” There is one more thing, I think, that is critical on the cosmic to-do list of the well-lived life: “serve.”

Volunteer opportunities

Human beings are wired to serve.  We see this repeatedly in our work at PYXERA Global, where we work with companies to develop opportunities for their employees to deploy their professional skills in specific pro bono projects — employees live and work in an underserved market and participate on assignments that build capability and capacity in mission-driven organizations.

The corporate-sponsored efforts of the employees mean that communities benefit from the infusion of free professional expertise such as organizational strategy, supply chain management, quality process improvement, financial sustainability, product and service innovation, and branding and marketing —  which might otherwise be beyond their reach.

“Service becomes a virtuous cycle.”

Human transformation

The companies benefit from the authentic reputations gained from such philanthropy.  It’s the impact on the employees, however, who have the opportunity to provide such service, which is perhaps most surprising and profound. “Transformative,” is the word participants use most often to describe their experience: “When I returned, it took time to realize the extent to which the experience reshaped my worldview,” said one participant. “I was no longer the same person I was before I left.”

Being dropped in a foreign environment forces professionals to reconsider all they know — about business, markets, organizations, even life — accelerating a more global mindset. This introspection goes on to expand their capability to listen, learn, adapt and collaborate to develop valuable, sustainable solutions. These skillsets enhance their ability to lead within their own companies when they return, as well as provide insights as to how their companies might well provide viable services and products to those markets. Service becomes a virtuous cycle. As we serve, so are we served.