Inspiration from nature: Is it for the birds or not?

Post Last Updated: 2 years ago

For the past two weeks, I have been watching a bird in my back yard while I drink my morning coffee.  At first, I thought it was just one of the pesky birds waiting for me to go inside so it could enjoy the cat food in the automatic feeder set out for the feral kitties who live in our back yard.  Over a couple of days, I noticed a pattern to this bird’s activities that didn’t have anything to do with cat food.  This bird was building a nest in the Ficus tree.

As I studied the bird going about its nest building activity, I noticed that it carefully chose the twig to carry to its nest.  This is challenging in my backyard.  I live in Arizona, so erase the picture of a green lush backyard.  Envision a dry brown grass area surrounded by a rock border area that houses a few trees and bushes.  The lushest thing in my backyard is the hearty weeds that grow and thrive despite the heat and lack of water.  It is slim pickings for the bird, but it judiciously hops around looking for just the right twig.  It reviews many twigs and rejects them before selecting one.

When it has found the right piece needed for its work of a lifetime, it first flies to the pool fence and seems to rest and consider the next step of its journey.  When the time is right, the bird flies to the branch and enters the inner sanctum of the Ficus tree where the nest resides.  This process is repeated over and over.

As I reflected on the bird’s process of building a nest to nurture its offspring, it reminded me of my experience working with volunteers.  Now you may be thinking that I’m short a few twigs, but hear me out.

In my professional capacity as a Director of Volunteers, I was given the responsibility of building a volunteer force that aids and supports the organization’s mission and ability to provide services.  A volunteer force is much like a bird’s nest.  A nest is designed to nurture, to aid and support the bird’s chicks.  The nest is comprised of many twigs. Each twig, selected for its unique qualities, is needed for the nest.  It takes each twig to make the perfect nest.  The same is true for a volunteer force.  Each volunteer is selected for their unique qualities; skills, talents, experience and personality.  It takes each volunteer to make a perfect volunteer force; one that is purposeful, meaningful, and impactful.

So how is this relevant to you? 

For those of you who are the twigs, volunteers in our communities, you are essential to achieving the goal.  You are the very foundation that makes the goal possible.  Your unique qualities are critical to the success of the goal.  There would be no immediate benefit or future potential without you.  You and your service is the only thing that builds a nest for our communities. You are essential to our communities.

For those of you who are the birds, volunteer managers in our community organizations, you are also essential.  You lead the effort toward achieving the goal understanding the absolute necessity fueled by the love and compassion in your heart.  You carefully select each volunteer, assess their unique qualities and how they can impact the goal, pause in the process for onboarding and training of staff and new volunteers, carefully place volunteers in just the right position, value and honor each volunteer for their essential unique contribution, and repeat this process many times until volunteers are efficient and purposeful in achieving meaningful service that produces immediate benefit to the organization and those they serve along with great future potential for all.  

It reminds us all that achieving our goals in life involves a deliberate process.  It takes many pieces, each selected deliberately, to accomplish the result.  This can take time, but it is worth the investment.  As we take the step to place each piece, we need to pause to position ourselves in the best position to efficiently reach our goal.  We will repeat this process many times before the goal is complete.  Consistent persistence and commitment to the goal is required to achieve success.  When it is a work of necessity and love, we are inspired and motivated to achieve the goal.  The goal that produces immediate benefit and future potential.

So, as we all go about our lives, personally and professionally, building nests; ask yourself is it for the birds or for all of us? 

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