I’ll come right out with it: are you helping to build the capacity of your world?

A bit of fragrance always clings to the hand that gives you roses. ~ Chinese proverb

So often entrepreneurs are stuck in business minutiae that they ignore their own needs for professional and personal development… and here I come suggesting that you help build the capacity of your world too.

But helping the society around you develop resilience and increased capacity can pay back big dividends.  Civil discourse in the US has foundered as too many turn disagreement into personal attacks.  Americans are safer than ever, yet more fearful of any risk in our lives.  Our ability to deal with large, critical issues has deteriorated into jockeying for short-term advantages.

All of these are symptoms of individual and communities’ lack of capacity and resilience.

What can each of us do?

While it is important to start with personal responsibility in all you do, enlarge your focus too.

Ask yourself: what is important to you?  What areas matter enough to dedicate a bit of time and energy to the future of your world?

Some of you may already be incorporating social responsibility and sustainability in their businesses – and more of us probably should.


There are opportunities everywhere – or you can create your own. Charities, community organizations, religious groups, and causes call out for help.  In many cities, formal volunteer coordinating  groups offer options from one day up through longer-term commitments.

I work with Compass, which organizes teams of MBAs to help non-profits enhance their long-term success.  And every non-profit we work with has difficulty finding active, effective board members!  Perhaps you have the interest to join a board or do projects using your skills to benefit others.

Get active in your community needs.

Local governments need people for a wide range of committees and programs designed to ensure it is a good place to live.  Many have emergency preparedness programs which train you to help in the case of natural disasters or other emergencies.

At the national and international level, organizations exist where you can do similar work.  Think of those in the many charities who went to help after recent earthquakes in other countries (Habitat for HumanityRebuilding Together, or EarthWatch as examples).

Reach out online.  Just over a year ago in the face of the dramatic increase in unemployment, a small group created JobAngels to help those looking for work.  Tens of thousands found free support and advice and assistance and jobs via social media.

Among my clients’ executives, there are those who…

… adopted a family for a whole year, and for a Christmas… organized a group to help repaint and repair a school… tutored kids for a school year… supported a science project team or three… donated books to a literacy group… built a homeless shelter… stocked a food pantry.

Others are active politically or in advocacy roles in their profession.  Many volunteer through their religion or their college.

I hope these ideas will trigger some ideas for you to contribute to the larger good, to help us rebuild our resilience and enhance the capacity of our communities.

And, just for you cynics, let me remind you such work also can help you:

  • enhance your business
  • grow your network
  • develop new skills
  • find new opportunities for personal and professional success in the future.

I did travelogues in nursing homes when I was very young and now I speak at conferences. What’s your story?

More from:

  • Patricia Frame’s first and second posts in this three-part series
  • Business Social Responsibility and its HERproject
  • The Stanford Social Innovation Review, which has “strategies, tools and ideas for nonprofits, foundations, and socially responsible businesses”

Image: David Gil, Creative Commons