The Halo Effect | Notes & Review

Posted on May 15, 2010


John Raynolds. The Halo Effect: How Volunteering Can Lead to a More Fulfilling Life and a Better Career. Golden Books, 1998. (213 pages)

Remember, when you become involved, when you lead with your heart as well as your head, the result is always good. (2)

“Whenever you do the right think you feel better about yourself. And when you feel good, you tend to be more successful. You throw yourself into your work with more enthusiasm and energy, particularly if you are aligned with the values of the company. You relate better to other people, too, for a good attitude is contagious.” (13)

What are the effects?

  1. Being a volunteer expands, complements, and enhances your professional resume. Prospective bosses not only notice this kind of service, but it influences their hiring decisions. And when you help others, you help yourself, because you build character, and character is one of the keys to a successful career.
  2. When you participate in volunteer activities, you can make new and important contacts. It isn’t always easy to meet people who can further your professional life and offer you advancement. But volunteerism opens the door to connections you might not ever have imagined.
  3. One of the primary issues in building a career is the need to increase your profile. But so many people tell me that the kind of relentless self-promotion they see in some of their peers is out of the question. So volunteering can be a way to let others inside and outside your industry know who you are without show-boating.
  4. Volunteerism is an opportunity to try something new–and learn any number of new skills necessary to succeed in business. By taking a risk, you may discover aptitudes you might not otherwise learn you possess.
  5. Even great jobs can be boring now and then. Volunteering will supply your mind with something new and invigorating. And that can lead you to fresh, surprising places.
  6. Growing a career can be difficult. Few people show up at a job with their talents full blown. You need to learn so much, and yet learning experiences can be hard to come by. But you can pick up these skills by volunteering.
  7. Volunteering expands your horizons. It helps you learn what others have to say in situations where you normally wouldn’t venture. When you bring this wisdom back to the workplace, you’ll profit from the exposure.
  8. Sometimes the best way to land the right job is to volunteer for one. You may be amazed at how many people have found the perfect career by lending a hand.
  9. Sometimes the most valuable key to a successful career is someone wise and senior who becomes a role model. These sage advisers can be hard to find, but by volunteering and expanding your horizons, you’ll increase the likelihood of meeting one.
  10. The strange and unforeseen can happen when you volunteer. You can grow in ways you’ve never considered, you can meet people you never knew existed, or, as in the following case, you can work for an organization that changes your life–and your career.
  11. There are many, many more advantages to being a volunteer. You may find your health improving, your self-i9mgae flourishing, your company thriving, and your relationship with your family changing for the better. Of course, all this is good for your career, too.

One thing I know, the only ones among you who will be truly happy are those who have sought and found how to serve. – Albert Schweitzer

I know of nothing more despicable and pathetic than a man who devotes all the hours of the waking day to the making of money for money’s sake. – John D. Rockefeller

You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give. – Kahlil Gibran

— VIA —

I hesitated to actually do a review since this book was so individualistically centered. The end result, ultimately, of volunteering, is you. For example, on p.27, he suggests that volunteering is good because you can take risks, and that can lead to failure, which is an outstanding teacher. I actually agree. HOWEVER, he suggests that “if you’re going to make mistakes, making them without putting your career on the line is probably your best bet in the long run.” (27) Really?! It’s better to leverage other people’s lives by experimenting, but not your own? Why would you put someone else’s mission or cause on the line for the sake of your own “career?” This just reeks of narcissism and self-aggrandizement at the expense of other people.

Regarding, how to begin your search, he suggests, “start by looking inward.” (75) I completely disagree. Inward looking is a part of it no doubt, but there is a significant reality in allowing the realities around you to influence your internal sense of being.

In addition, the whole book is really not filled with much content (all of the real “content” is listed above), but rather stories of people finding their way, lists of areas of service, and a catalog of various organizations you could pursue. I really do not recommend the book as a whole.

HOWEVER, with all that said, I believe strongly in redemptive moves. And as I thought about it, society still has many people who are so career focused, they can never see anything outside of their particular path and journey. So, if this book, or at least the “selfishly driven motives” of this book gets people to take a step outside themselves to volunteer, then I bless the effort. I pray it doesn’t end up or stay at the level of self-help, however, selfish motivation is always a first-step.

Posted in: Life, Reviews