What Serving Others Teaches You


We learned in “The Science Behind Giving Back,” how our brains react to doing good works. Our pleasure switch is flipped when we see how appreciative another person is for the work we’ve done – any people pleasers relate? Although our natural reaction to serving others is great, we cannot rely on this as our only reason to serve. Once our actions turn selfish, we lose our purpose. The reason we give back is to help others, not make ourselves feel good – feeling good is only the side effect. But there are takeaways and lessons to learn when we give back. The more experiences you have with volunteering and serving others, the more you’ll learn skills in leadership, teamwork, and drive.


We discuss leadership a lot, but serving others will teach you leadership skills you wouldn’t find in the workplace. Volunteering is about dedication, hard work, and being there for your team. Therefore, leadership in this setting is completely different. When you’re working with others who choose to be there, you’ll find a team who is not only dedicated to the work but to you. Although leadership in this area is different, it will overflow into your career and looks great on résumés and college applications.


Teamwork is part of life. It’s in nearly every career field, school, and even the relationships we build. It’s never easy but navigating work with people is key to a successful team. This requires flexibility, compassion, and an open mind. Most likely while you’re volunteering, you’ll encounter people who love what they do and serving with you. However, people make mistakes and don’t share the same passions. And even though people are choosing to volunteer, they aren’t always reliable – especially when money isn’t involved.


Personal drive/self-starting may not come to mind when you think of “skills,” but it does reflect a great employee. Understanding personal drive comes when you’ve seen what your hard work accomplishes. It’s difficult to experience this when you’re working at a job you’re not passionate about, but volunteering allows you to choose an area and make a difference. You’ll find your drive and recognize when to utilize it after you’ve seen all you are capable of.