Every fall, I have the unique opportunity of dusting off my not-so-fashionable bumble bee-colored AYSO referee jersey and giving back to my community. I’ve actually been refereeing for 8 years now ever since my now 13-year-old son Dylan started playing soccer. I sort of fell into it at the time because agreeing to ref was the only way I could get Dylan off of the wait list and on to a team. Looking back, I am so grateful that I did!
What’s funny though is that as soccer gears up every year, I literally think to myself, “I hope the coach doesn’t ask me to ref again because I’m too busy to do it.” Fortunately for me, the coach does ask for volunteers every year, and thus far I have sheepishly agreed to do it whenever asked.
Supporting my children and serving my community in this way has had such a profound impact on me – not to mention my children – though that it now has me rethinking the whole concept of giving back. From the sheer physical exercise of ref’ing a game to the unintended emotional pride I take away from the pitch every week, I truly gain so much more than I could ever give these children. Hence, it has me feeling as if refereeing is a selfish not selfless act for me.
I realize that’s a bit of a stretch and may seem a little weird. For me, I simply offer that the shoe does fit and invite you to think about it too, especially if you don’t have an established practice of community service in your life. Anytime I give back, I’m really paying it forward. It serves me, and it serves my community. I just feel that I take so much more away from the experience than I could ever give.
I recently facilitated a free workshop at my graduate school alma mater the California School of Professional Psychology. I spent only about 3 hours on campus with the students and several other professional colleagues with the intention of sharing my first-hand lessons learned from being in business for myself these past 10 years. In doing so though, not only did I achieve that objective, but also I left with a new sense of inspiration for an even stronger practice and overall brighter future. I never would have had that A’ha or created a new possibility for myself and my life if it weren’t for the students and their very positive reaction to my stories though. As grateful as they are to me for my contribution, I will always be grateful to them – just as I am every one of the AYSO soccer coaches who has requested my support over the last 8 years.