Karen was a young lady in her mid twenties who joined our sports club at a very low level. She used to come every morning and support the clearing and the cleaning during the preparations for our weekend events.
As a community sports club, we often had most of our clients coming during the weekends. A large majority of our clients were people who worked, and their children who went to school, during the week. We therefore had our largest groups on weekends. Sadili Oval, as a social enterprise, was able to survive through the weekend patrons who paid to attend events, tournaments or use the facilities. Karen would come in to provide support during these activities.
After about 4 weekends, Karen started to show real interest in the other daily activities at the club, and she would offer to volunteer where help was required.
We realised that we had a “happy helper’ amongst us! She would support the signing in of gym members coming in for evening classes, cleaning and mopping up where necessary. She also showed a lot of interest in the swimming pool, and persuaded one of our instructors to teach her to swim and maintain the pool during the less busy hours, in exchange for her help when the pool was busy. It’s obvious that everyone found her a very likeable and very useful young person.
One time I sat with her asked “ Karen, I’m curious, why is it that you are always here?” And she answered, “I only want to learn, and I’ve found an opportunity to do it here.” I found that a really interesting answer.
Certain things also struck me about Karen. Firstly, she always looked forward to the meals that we offered staff at the time, and it was obvious that she hadn’t been eating well. Our background checks showed that Karen came from an extremely poor background, and if it wasn’t for the opportunity she had to come and work with us, she was unlikely to get a full meal a day. These are some of the things that you do not ordinarily discuss with someone because you do not want them to feel bad, and she was a vey proud young lady. So what we did was to approve for the manager to give her some work on part time basis during the week, whenever possible, and provide her with a small allowance. Throughout the two years that she was with us, Karen was able to get herself certified as a gym instructor, through our training programs, and she grew into a very confident young lady. We were very happy to recommend her to work as a full time junior instructor in one of the larger gyms in the city.
To this day, I remember Karen very well; because she did a few things that we often wish to see. One of them is the willingness to learn. Learning sometimes is not about going into a college or classroom setting. A lot of times, it is just about being aware of what is happening around you, learning from it, and using that to improve yourself.
Secondly, Karen was able and willing to volunteer herself. Not everything that that you requires you to be paid. Very often, through volunteering, you learn a lot.
Karen was willing to give her best. If you have that kind of attitude, it basically means that you will never allow yourself to settle for less, and very often, you will succeed in whatever goal you set.
Think about how you can make yourself more valuable, if you want to be like Karen, is it possible? Are there areas in your life that you could improve on?
Are you willing to take the step and say, “I just want to learn”.