Trek For Sight

29 January 2016

How could running a marathon or trekking overseas for charity advance your career?

At a first glance, these challenges may seem somewhat unrelated to your career. Recently, however, there's been a noticeable shift within the corporate sector towards doing social good that goes beyond compliance. Therefore, taking on a charity challenge could really help enhance your personal brand.

Companies increasingly want to be seen to be doing good, having a positive impact on their staff, customers and the wider community. Social awareness is no longer just a checkbox exercise on corporate responsibility report, and it's likely to become something that you're expected to demonstrate personally.

There are four ways that a charity challenge could help you to progress at work.

1. Identify with a cause and empathy

Empathy is important for work, providing you with the ability to see from someone else's point of view, and helps you get along with your colleagues. There's a widely held misconception that "you are how you are" when it comes to such 'soft' skills, but empathy can be trained, like any other skill. Empathy provides you with the platform to build cooperation, collaboration, and teamwork.

Identifying with a cause and understanding the suffering of others underpins a charity challenge, and is a powerful way to build your levels of empathy.

2. Training for a physical challenge and determination

It is needless to say that determination and resilience are crucial for success in the workplace. Charity challenges are often taxing, both physically and mentally. You’ll need to commit to training - all those early morning, wintery training sessions in the dark, and then complete the challenge itself.

Persevering with the training, across several months, and then seeing the challenge through will help build your determination and resilience.

3. Fundraising and networking skills

Networking is about making connections and building enduring, mutually beneficial relationships. Whatever your profession, the ability to connect with other people (customers, clients or colleagues) is likely to be vital.

Networking skills are essential to successful fundraising. With a charity challenge, you’ll be expected to raise a minimum sponsorship from your personal networks, whether that be via social media or in person.

4. Sport and leadership

The former Manchester United Manger, Alex Ferguson, has spoken recently about the crossovers between positions of leadership in sport and in business. 

Within charity challenges, you’ll often be expected to encourage, support and lead those around you. It will be challenging, particularly at those times when the elements turn against you or at the end of a long day. Experiences like this, in a new environment will give you the opportunity to test and develop your leadership skills.