IAIP and Being Voluntold       

By Jonel Thames Leake, CPCU, ASLI, AAI, CPIW, DAE, CLP 

How many times have you heard a member say, “I was voluntold”? That statement is usually followed by a laugh and a smile. I have said that more than once over my tenure as a member. It got me thinking. What does ‘voluntold’ actually mean?

Voluntold is a combination of volunteering and being told to do something. It is a slang word and, according to our friend Google, it means that you didn’t volunteer for something. Rather, someone else volunteered you without you having the option of saying “no”. This is another way of saying you were told to do the task. You didn’t have a choice.

Is this what I meant when I say I was voluntold to be a member of my local association’s nominating committee when I first joined? Not in the least. While I didn’t raise my hand to volunteer immediately, I received encouragement from another member to participate. I agreed to join the committee. At no time did I feel that I was obligated to do so.

Based on the definition of voluntold, is this something that we, as IAIP members, should stop saying or doing? I don’t think so. I believe that IAIP’s version of voluntold is based on support and encouragement and not on obligation. In the perfect world, every task, every office, and every committee would have a line of volunteers ready to serve. Unfortunately, that isn’t reality. Leaders often need to work to fill positions. Sometimes the difference between leaving a position unfilled and having it filled just takes a little encouragement.

Every time that I grew in this organization, I had someone say to me “I think you would be great at this position. You should go for it.” I could easily say I was voluntold! If I hadn’t been a member of that nominating committee all those years ago, I would not have the honor of serving as your International Secretary today. If you have to fill a position and you hear someone say they were voluntold, smile and realize that your encouragement worked. You could be taking a shy member and setting them on a path to an international office!

Jonel Thames Leake, CPCU, ASLI, AAI, CPIW, DAE, CLP is currently serving as our International Secretary. She would not be in that position without being voluntold to serve various positions over the years.

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