I work day and night reading, researching, writing, consulting, and coaching so that people can be happy at work. Something needs to change. There are way too many people who don’t like what they do. At some point, I wasn’t happy either that is why it became my passion.
At the beginning of my career, I was disappointed because I was promised this was the best path to take: go to good schools, work hard, get high grades, go to the best college, and find a good job; the rest will be easy. I know many of you can relate to this formula. I did everything I was told, but it did not work for me. I felt guilty not to be happy with what I was able to achieve. It looked like I should be! I spent years wondering what I should do, how I can like what I do, be happy with a job that pays me well, boosts my ego (thought it was my confidence at the time), and gives me a great life style. It did not work. I tried other jobs too.
I wanted to be myself everywhere. I did not know how to separate work and personal life. I had to deal with both at all times. I had “feelings” at work too, but it was not normal to talk about them. IQ seemed to be what I all needed and some level of obedience; ability to follow the rules and avoiding questions that might make people (especially those higher in the rank) uncomfortable.
I started wondering what makes me or other employees happy.
Then came Emotional Intelligence; the need to know more about who we are and understand others as well. I was so happy when Daniel Goleman’s book came out, and people started to talk about it. Now we can have conversations about our intuitions, emotions, relationships, trust at work, even a new concept of heart-centered leadership. (I know not everywhere yet, but it is coming!) I am so excited that we got to this point where so many can talk about these topics in organizations. I always thought work takes such a big chunk of our lives that it would be too sad to live only for weekends and retirement. I decided to dedicate my life to creating better work places where people feel completely human and happy again. Doing this, I get aligned with who I am, what I believe in, my purpose and my most important values. Along this journey, as I was writing down my dreams and my bucket list; boom as it always happens when you are in the flow; I came across one of the best nonprofit organizations I have ever met; Bridge to Turkiye.
I loved their vision:
• To unite individuals through capacity building and to promote fellowship by establishing a trusted bridge between those with aspirations without the means; and those with the means to be their dream partners.
• To contribute to the development of under-served segments of the Turkish society, where they too can realize their full potential
• To promote the principles of good citizenship and to build a grassroots charitable organization that is credible, transparent and accountable
Beautiful isn’t it? And it is not only a document for the sake of having it. They live it, they breathe it.
It is about giving back to my country, it is about helping those who have not been so lucky, it is about education, it is about making sure more people on this earth have the chance to see their potential and use it. These are things I believe in. Besides the vision and mission which truly speaks to my heart, I was also drawn to the leader of this amazing organization. After studying leadership, now I know why: in any organization the leader, the founder, or the CEO sets the tone of the culture – with or without realizing it. The authentic purpose just shines through them. Just like any great leader, you don’t follow them because you have to, but because you want to.
It has been seven years since my amazing friends and I started working with them as volunteers. We had very busy years, and then we had years we could not do a lot. When we can catch up to do something for our socio-economically disadvantaged girls back in Turkey, we always come back to see the organization flourish even more. I cannot believe all the people I meet who got attracted to this organization and became leaders of their teams. I have worked in many organizations for profit and non-profit, and I am not exaggerating when I say these people are very special. They are humble, they will jump through the hoops to help you, only act with love, sacrifice but act like they have done nothing, are there for you for every step of the way, have huge hearts not only for the kids in need but everybody else too. Imagine how much generosity they have in their souls to help the unfortunate ones. Our leader still stays generous, very appreciative, very humble (actually he might be angry that I write this much about him), stay quiet in the background, let everyone else lead and steps in only when he knows he is needed or just when he want to say “thank you”.
“As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others.”
– Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft
I am proud to say we work for a leader like this. Our cause, our purpose is above everything. Starting with this incredible leader, everybody who volunteers there has no name. It is all about serving others.
You may say it is so much easier to find this type of organizations in the non-profit sector because all of them are founded on a real cause. I can agree with to that to a certain extent but having volunteered for many, this is a special one. I know it is because a special kind of leader started it and attracted the right kind of people who are authentic and there for the right reasons. Helping many organizations who want to stay true to their purpose, have a clear mission and vision; being part of a heart-centered organization like this makes me believe when the right purpose and the right people align come together, there is nothing we cannot achieve in this world.
With my deepest gratitude to Bridge to Turkiye and everyone who volunteers there! You are my inspiration every day.