motionball’s Paul Etherington Talks Leadership

Toronto’s Paul Etherington is the guy every fellow young professional (YP) wants to chat with when it comes to advice on charitable involvement, business, or how to throw an unforgettable party. He is, after all, behind one of the most successful YP-run charities in the country, the beloved motionball. motionball is a non-profit organization that benefits the Special Olympics Canada Foundation (SOCF) through a series of nationwide sporting and social events, including the motionball galas, like the recent #mb360 that marked the 13th annual Toronto event. To date, motionball has raised $4 million for Special Olympics Canada. Because Etherington doesn’t have time to do coffee with everyone (though we are sure he would if he could), we offer the next best thing: a monthly series where he answers some of your most asked questions and offers inspiring words of wisdom. We kick it off with his thoughts on leadership and charitable involvement… 

Do you consider yourself a leader?
If so, good! But with leadership comes responsibility; responsibility to your work, to your family and friends, and to your country and faith. And let’s not forgot a responsibility to your community. Unfortunately, while the universal need to give back has never been higher, so few are doing it. One volunteer statistic explains that 80 per cent of people don’t volunteer because they simply aren’t asked. Another suggests that 75 per cent of people do not volunteer because they don’t believe they have the time. 

Do you lead a busy lifestyle? Of course you do – each one of us is busy and tomorrow always seems to be busier than today. Still, no matter how swamped we are, we always find the time to go for beers with friends, get a quick workout in, watch that important hockey game or prepare for that big meeting. These things we do without consideration of time because they are an expression of who we are; a priority in our life. A lack of time can no longer be a legitimate excuse for not giving back. 

You as leaders and as 360-degree young professionals need to promote this balanced and complete approach to life where giving back and service to your community becomes a priority, because I assure you the return will be greater happiness and purpose in your life. I appreciate that it is often very difficult to find your way into the world of meaningful community service, but the first step is simple: find something you are passionate about. Ask yourself the question, what has impacted my life? Where would I like to leave a mark? 

For me, personally, one of my greatest passions is sport, so it isn’t surprising that my chosen charity revolves around it; the Special Olympics is a worldwide organization designed to enrich the lives of individuals with an intellectual disability through sport.

Everything that I am passionate about, everything that I have experienced both in my personal life and in my work environment, I have incorporated into community work. It truly defines who I am as a person.

Winston Churchill once said you make a living by what you get, you make a life by what you give.

Sadly, however, there are many young Canadians today with a shared feeling of powerlessness to affect change. The truth is, all you need is a willingness and the determination to better the world around you. 

Find the time. Separate yourself from the pack and make a difference.

Ralph Emerson said it best when he said, “Do not go where the path may lead – go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” When it comes down to the final buzzer, what social footprint will you have left behind? That is ultimately how you will be judged.

Will your footprint be written around the company you built or the social reforms you introduced? Perhaps it will be the family members you nurtured, or the friends who you inspired, or the community service and philanthropic initiatives you launched.

If, however, you are a true leader and complete 360-degree young professional, it will be all of the above.

#LYNL | (Live Your Notable Life)

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