Pro Bono with Passion and Purpose


Taken at a Native American Powwow by Jocelyn Canfield

Many consultants I know receive frequent requests to take on non-paying work. Because I could spend all of my waking hours doing pro bono work, I have become much more selective about the projects I take on. The project has to ignite my passion or represent a growth opportunity…in other words, it has to serve my needs as well as the organization making the request.

Consider how volunteer activities can advance  your sense personal satisfaction – and your career. I know many professionals who are currently unemployed. In what way can you reach out to organizations who could benefit from your expertise and who may be in desperate need of help? Consider opportunities which may allow you to network to your own professional benefit, or that may build skills in an area that you want to develop. Volunteering can boost your business and your sense of satisfaction.

My next project satisfies my passion and my desire for growth: I am about to accompany a team of veterinarians to two Native American reservations in New Mexico. I will be photographing the people and animals these vets are helping…people who have no financial ability to pay for veterinary services but who are reliant on their livestock to create a better standard of living. This project was a strong fit for me on many levels. I have a deep sensitivity for native Americans, a passion for animals and I love the southwest. I have also been looking for a meaty photography project to inspire a book of my photos.

The vet who organized the trip and invited my participation likens life on these reservations to a third world country. Pets sustain wounds and injuries which go untreated. Feral dogs roam and prey on livestock which are critical to the livelihood of the people. These reservations have virtually no access to veterinary care other than these periodic volunteer visits.

One thing that I have learned is that strong imagery enhances awareness and can be a catalyst for change. Because of this, I am in the midst of starting an organization called Photo Mission to provide creative support to causes that otherwise couldn’t afford to commission work to tell their story…which in turn would contribute to their success. If you want to support my work helping others, through a donation or sponsorship, please reach out to me.


What Fires You Up?

kickupheels2I was checking in recently with my accountability partner on progress toward our goals. (We talk every Monday about our goals for the week and performance over the prior week.) She is making major changes in her life and is in that in-between stage of still working full time for a company while she readies herself to launch her own business.

Despite the long hours she is putting in, she commented that she is “so freaking excited” about working toward her dream job that she jumps out of bed early every day eager to make progress on her goals! We should all have that same level of enthusiasm while working two full-time jobs!

When we give ourselves permission to do work that resonates with our heart, we have the potential to have the same kind of enthusiasm. Certain work that I do gives me this level of excitement. There are also quite a few projects filed away in my brain that have the potential to spark that level of excitement. How can we bring these projects to the forefront, especially when time is at a premium?

I frequently hear people talking about what they will do “when they have time.” What I have learned is that time seldom materializes in large blocks. It is important to learn to take advantage of small bites of time in order to make gradual progress toward your goals and dreams and put my friend’s level of excitement into your workday.

– What if just one morning a week, you spent 30 minutes on your project?
– What if you gave up watching one sporting event on TV to work on your project?
– What if you spent an hour before breakfast one day each weekend?

If you do all three of these, you’ve just created four hours of time each week to accomplish something important to you!

Take Action Challenge: Consider where you can find small bites of time in your schedule to make progress toward a project or goal. What ho-hum activities are you willing to give up to get to the level of excitement my friend has?

© 2009 Jocelyn Canfield, ABC

Surround Yourself with Successful People

15665wbf2I was at a conference last year with about 300 people who were fired up to learn, grow and succeed. What energy filled that room! EVERYONE I met was looking for ways to improve themselves and to suck the proverbial marrow out of life! And the success that these people were looking for was not just about money. The facilitator encouraged putting heart and soul into life and living your passion. Attendees exchanged countless hugs over the course of the week. The experience of being with so many vibrant people with common goals made me realize that once I returned home, I had no one in my primary circle of friends who is like this and who could support me in my growth…or even understand it.

So this year one of my goals became to build my “posse” by finding an assortment of like-minded people who can help me to grow personally and professionally. I have heard it said that you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. Think about who those five people are in your life and decide if they are helping you to realize your goals and dreams.

To determine who you need to add to your mix of friends and acquaintances to support your success, you need to know what success looks like for you, both personally and professionally. Each of your goals or personal visions may be supported by different types of people…but for now we’ll focus on business success. Here’s what I am up to:

1) After the conference I referenced above, I participated in a series of group coaching sessions with folks from the workshop. I was assigned an accountability partner and, nearly a year later, we still check in with each other weekly. We discuss our success on our goals for that week and what we want to achieve in the coming week. This helps to focus me and move me toward success.

2) Several months ago I joined a book group that focuses on life changing books. This is a group of people who want to grow and experience life more deeply.

3) I have decided that I want to become a better public speaker and have greater confidence speaking off the cuff, so I am joining a local Toastmasters group. These skills will help me personally and professionally.

4) I want to join or form a business mastermind group.

In each of these situations, I will have the opportunity to expand my network of successful people.

Take Action Challenge: Think about whether you have people around you who can support your success toward each of your business goals. Do you have at least one group of like-minded people with whom you affiliate? If the answer is no, consider where you would find such people and seek them out.

Searching for professional meaning

ss45026Periodically I have an overwhelming realization that I am not fully connecting my passion with my work…that I have some bigger purpose in life, still undiscovered…or maybe just ignored for the safety of a reliable income. While I enjoy the work that I do (graphic design, writing and photography) I often think about how I could be using my talents to bring about meaningful change in some capacity. This feeling may be a hallmark of hitting your 40s and 50s. It’s no longer about how high the ladder goes, but about making sure the ladder is leaning against the right wall to begin with. Or as a friend of mine recently put it upon returning from a two-month sabbatical in Korea, coming down off the ladder and recognizing that life CAN be a meandering path if you are willing to listen to your heart.

At one time the dream for me was to quit my corporate job and start my own business. Eleven successful business years later, I want more. I know intuitively that I want to get satisfaction – even joy – out of each waking, working moment, but I am aware that my activities do not always support my intentions. To some degree many of us are guilty of putting our professional and even our personal lives on autopilot. We drift along when the waters are smooth, only turning our attention to certain activities when the waters get choppy. Now is one of those choppy times for many of my friends and colleagues. People suddenly start nurturing their network, re-evaluating their skills, questioning their employability. Will they get laid off? Are they employable elsewhere? Will they lose the big client? The question of work that has deeper meaning seems to have less relevance when we are in a position of desperation.

There is never a bad time to focus on the call of your heart. It you have a professional or personal aspiration that is somewhat unconventional or has less potential for income, be sure that you are still taking steps toward that dream even as you review the want ads or search for clients that pay the bills rather than fire up your heart. If you want to write a book, commit to writing a page a day or writing for two hours every Saturday. If you would prefer to get off the fast track and work in the non-profit sector helping others, develop relationships by volunteering on boards of directors of organizations that you care about. Want to lead fishing expeditions when you retire? Start planning one a month now and develop a clientele. It is a daunting task to head in a completely new direction from nothing, with no contacts or experience. But if you’ve been dabbling at your passion all along, the pink slip could be a blessing in disguise…and you just may have more courage to go in the direction of your heart.

© 2008 Jocelyn Canfield, ABC

Do You Really WANT to Get Out of Your Box?

set your imagination freeBeing “Out of the box” is something that many of us aspire to. It is associated with innovation, creativity and freshness. A quick search on uncovers dozens of books with out of the box in the title. What is it that actually creates a box around us? In what ways does the box serve us and in what ways does it become limiting?

Truth be told, most people stay nested safely inside not just one box, but many boxes for most of their lives. Can you identify your boxes? A box can be a routine. A box can be a job. It can be a relationship. It can be a mentality. Some boxes provide safety and comfort, while others limit our thinking and the possibility of becoming a closer version of who we are intended to become.

My job as a writer and graphic designer requires creativity and out-of-the-box thinking, but it can be a HUGE box. It is a box that I usually love with a passion…but when I find my backside parked in a desk chair for 8, 9, 12 hours, I start to feel the walls of my box a bit more and I wonder about ways to feel less confined and more inspired. Photography and art directing photo shoots is a nice beak from my desk “box.” Sometimes I ask myself, Why do I have to sit at my desk all day long? What if two mornings a week, I worked from the café or at the picnic table in the park? Why do I have to work 9 to 5? Maybe another schedule would suit my body better and I’d actually be more productive in fewer hours?

I know quite a few people who are concerned about keeping their jobs during these troubled economic times. Some of these people may even have a dream tucked away to do something really big, like take time off to write a book, or travel the world. If you lost your job tomorrow, would carrying out your dream be possible? Or would you feel so bare without your box around you that you would spend your days panicked and searching for a new box? Clearly finances can put us in a box. I challenge you to think about what you would do if your current boxes were suddenly stripped away. Would you have the courage to go in the direction of your dream and try it on for a while?

I have been asking myself that question this week. I anticipate that my business will be off by about 25% in 2009. What will I do with that extra time? Should I spend it looking for work that simply may not be available at this time due to client budget constraints? Or should I view it as a gift of time to work on the book of photography that has been in my heart and mind for the past two years?

Take Action Challenge: Think about the boxes that you are in at this time. What keeps you there? Is the box a comfort or a prison? If you removed fear and panic from the equation, could you leave your box behind?

© 2008 Jocelyn Canfield, ABC

Growth: What have you done for yourself lately?

It is easy to become stagnant if you aren’t pushing yourself to engage in new things. I have engaged in a number of new activities this past month with an eye on marketing myself in different ways AND not becoming a dinosaur. I started this blog and a photography blog because I feel I have something to offer and because it imposes a discipline on me to write and to think differently. I joined Twitter where I am starting to build a new network of people who could possibly use the services of my graphic design business. I took on a different role on the board of a professional organization and am reaching out to my professional colleagues in different capacities.

I had no idea at the outset what the results would be of these new activities. I’ve met several new and interesting people through Twitter. I’ve had people from around the world reach out to me because of my photography, including a chicken farmer/photographer in rural England. People I’ve known for years have expressed curiosity about my photography, including a friend who asked me to take pictures of him. And I have had some interesting and fulfilling conversations.

These new activities are leading to personal growth and an expansion of my network. They have also taken a lot of time, so I am not certain that I will be able to continue all of these activities indefinitely, but the lesson that I take away is to be open to new things.

Take Action Challenge: What can you try that is new or has the potential to foster growth, personally or professionally? Can you volunteer for a new role in a group of which you are already a part? Have you ever considered blogging in an area that you have expertise? Is there a new piece of software that has the potential to make your life better? Try something new and share your results.

© 2008 Jocelyn Canfield, ABC

GOALS 3: Something’s Gotta Give

A colleague Twittered her followers asking what top three things we would be focusing on in 2009. I responded in the allotted 140 characters: “Happy goal = More time with friends. Healthy Goal = More time at the gym. Wealthy goal = More clients. It’s about MORE!”

After I sent my tweet, I realized that MORE is not a likely scenario in my life in the near term, given that “more” relates to TIME. I am a single parent of two teens, an entrepreneur, active on the board of a professional group, in a book club, a camera camera club, active in church, etc. Just where will this additional time come from to meet my important goals?

I read an article recently that suggested eliminating an hour of TV each day to free up needed time. I scoffed. Not going to work for me. I am already a virtual social outcast because my television watching = ZERO. (People’s jaws hit the table when I tell them I never saw a single episode of Seinfeld.)

Be mindful that the reason we may fail to attain our goals is likely because we put too much on our already-full plate. In order to make room for new things in your life, it is important to consider what can be eliminated. Here is my list:

– Break the email addiction. Do I really need to checking every 7 minutes? Three or four times during the workday should really suffice. I will also try to turn off the computer before dinner most days (this is going to be life changing).

– Limit social media “play time” to twice a day. Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn will no longer remain open in my browser all day long. I work from home and crave community, but these resources are not a replacement for the deep personal interactions I want.

– Delegate more. Get a cleaning service and consider a virtual assistant. That’s right, I’ll be doing my part to create jobs for others and get this economy back on track. I will also encourage the kids take on more responsibilities.

I’m going to work on one of these areas each week for the next three weeks. Trying to change too much at once would be a recipe for failure.

Take Action Challenge: What can you give up to make time for achieving your important goals?

© 2008 Jocelyn Canfield, ABC