The Real Magic

It may have been Winston Churchill who first said “we make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give” but I’m pretty sure I heard the same sentiment echoed in the words of almost everyone who attended the inaugural United Way Community Cup.

The United Way Community Cup was an exciting soccer tournament played by teams made up of from seven businesses across the Macquarie Park Business Community, but it was so much more than that. It was a day of invaluable corporate networking with colleagues and with people from other businesses in the area. It was more than that too, it was part of a purpose-driven business collaboration that raised more than money. It was truly the bringing together of business and community with an added touch of wonder.

The magic behind the day first started to percolate during the planning phase when the CEOs of Fuji Xerox, Johnson & Johnson, Macquarie Telecom, Macquarie University, Optus, Orix, , Pitney Bowes  and Ricoh got together as the Macquarie Park Business Community Partnership (MPBCP). The CEO’s chose emerging leaders within their organisations to make up the Leadership Team. But it was when these champions from each company started to get together for monthly meetings that the spark was well and truly lit and the real enchantment was unleashed.

I’ve worked in the corporate world for a long time and I‘ve had my fair share of involvement in dealing with teams of people, but this particular experience was totally new to me. There was an added element that was hard to pin down, that component Churchill may have been referring to when he spoke about “making life by what we give”.  The people volunteering their time and expertise on the Leadership Team were not merely ticking the corporate social responsibility box, yes they were volunteering and networking and developing leadership skills but ultimately they were working to make a difference to people living in the community in which they worked.

We all know that working in teams can sometimes be frustrating; at times personality styles clash, agendas are mismatched and people are often working on a project merely because they have to rather than because they really want to. This time it was different.

Maybe it is because as a not-for-profit we are collaborating with businesses that have a social conscious and are working to deliver real tangible outcomes. Maybe it is merely the collection of people who came together to form this team – everyone is a team player, there is no ego, no drama and no judgement. The Leadership Team just works, it clicks, it creates an exciting buzz that electrifies all the meetings and infiltrates each member of the team who, while working on their own day jobs, take their inclusion in the team as a mark of honour, encouraging leadership to stay on and help even when their own workloads are increasing and they have their own schedules and deadlines to meet outside of their voluntary work.

I think it has to do with the magic inside of these individuals, their desire to not just make a living, but to create a life infused with meaning and fulfilment. These are people who are already successful in their careers, well regarded by their companies who really want to make a difference not just to the bottom line of their business, but to the community in which they work. This team are working to increase literacy levels and to help youth at risk take a step away from disadvantage and climb on to the ladder of empowerment and opportunity.

This is a team of people who know that 40% of the people who live in the local area are born overseas and speak English as a second language, they believe in the cause and they know that education, literacy and opportunity are the real differences between surviving from day to day and living a meaningful life.

This is a team who make a difference not just to hundreds of children in their early years and to hundreds of at risk young adults but to me as well. Working with them  allows me to experience the special magic that only becomes tangible when people work together to really help those who need it most.

They inspire me and fill me with hope. They show me the true value of giving their time and expertise and have proved the wise words of another great leader Barack Obama who said, “Don’t wait for good things to happen to you. If you go out and make some good things happen, you will fill the world with hope, you will fill yourself with hope.”

To learn more about United Way click here

To find out how you and your business can get involved email me Marla.Bozic@unitedway.com.au