I just have to post this now while all of these inspirational juices are flowing. It can also tie into self love and loving others. This one is a little long, but it’s so worth it I promise.
Let’s look at a picture.
Now I know you’re wondering “Why are you showing me a picture of a man who looks homeless?”
This man is a leader. He is inspirational. He is what I want to be like. He is the definition of a servant leader.
“Servant Leadership is a philosophy and set of practices that enriches the lives of individuals, builds better organizations and ultimately creates a more just and caring world.” – Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership
So how did I encounter this man (let’s call him Jim)?
Well, I have a wonderful professor who is a servant leader himself and he brought Jim to our leadership class today. When Jim walked into the room I was initially shocked because I was not expecting him to be our guest speaker.
Jim is known on campus as the homeless man who sits by our library. I will admit that when I first saw him on campus, as a naïve freshman, I was confused as to why people were talking to a homeless man (our area has a decently large homeless community, which I didn’t know at the time).
I had read an article about him in our school paper, and knew he was a wise man, but I never had the chance to talk to him.
Under the jewelry, scarves, and layers of dirt covered, worn in clothes this man has so many important lessons that people would instantly learn just from listening to him.
I took some notes during his lecture and I wanted to share them with you.
“Good leaders always learn.”
Jim stressed this. He is in his late 50’s and said one of the most inspirational people in his life is a 72 year old woman who is still in college continuing to learn. He said he will always continue to learn. Jim believe that leaders should always be researching and developing to continue to create greatness. Going off of that he said, “leaders have to teach, but also be taught.”
“Don’t take people for granted. Don’t take anything for granted. Look at colors. Each color represents something. Every color that you put on or paint your walls or use is a representation of your mood/emotions in that moment. It says a lot. Look at everything beautiful in life. It gives you peace and serenity. It relaxes you.”
These all kind of go together. Don’t take anything for granted. Hindsight is 20/20. We live in such a beautiful world and have so many beautiful things going on in our lives. Don’t let them slip through your fingers.
This next little bit he said brought me to tears. It was so incredibly moving to see this man stand in front of 40 student leaders and tell us how beautiful his life is and how much he loves the life he lives. He said, “The colors, the flowers, the people, the students who talk to me, all of them are part of my life and they inspire me to be the man I am today.”
“Help more. See more. Do more.”
Help people more. Bring them opportunities. Help them grow. Helping people more will lead to them helping others. You will then see more being done. It’ll become a chain and more will be done, more will be achieved, and positive things will happen, and the world will be a little better. Always ask yourself what you can do to help people grow.
“Reach for your dreams.”
Never stop reaching for them. He said to follow your dreams for yourself, not anyone else because at the end of the day you are the one that dies with you. You are the one going through all the work to achieve the dream so make it something that you want to do, not your parents, or your friends.
“Look at yourself more closely. Be ready to answer any questions anyone has for you.”
After he said this he went around the room rapidly, asking the question, “What do you want to do? What is your dream? How are you going to do that?” People were struggling to answer it because it was so quick. He never got to me, but I’m putting this here to hold myself accountable, because once it’s been written I will do it. I want to inspire people. I want to inspire the people I meet and the ones I don’t. I want to inspire you. I want to inspire myself. I want to do this by spreading positivity throughout my life anywhere I can, anyway that I can.
Be ready to answer this question and any others thrown at you. You will encounter questions your whole life. Look at yourself and who you want to be and your goals and how you want to achieve them. Be ready to go after them.
“Don’t put barriers in your success. It will limit you and your community.”
Putting a barrier in your success will stop or slow your success. If your success will is slowed or stopped you have limited yourself. The way I understand this is like this: If I’m having a bad day I’m not going to let that stop me from being positive and stop me from spreading positivity. Not only will it kill the rest of my day, but I won’t be positively impacting other’s days and therefore I won’t be inspiring people. Killing my goal. Nix the barriers.
“Look at the mirror of life. The shadows. The windows. The mirrors. The eyes of the people you talk to. No one is greater than anyone else. We all have commonalities.”
This one kind of goes with looking at yourself. You aren’t better than anyone else and no one is better than you. Everyone is successful in their own way. Jim went to school with a guy who is now a multimillionaire for creating a computer chip.
Jim isn’t making millions of dollars, but he is impacting the people that he advocates for. He works with many organizations to bring awareness to the homeless community. He also is an advocate for women’s rights and mental health. He is impacting millions of people just like his friend, but it is in a completely different way.
You can’t look at the money value of an achievement. Look at how much their achievement is impacting people and how valuable that is. Look at yourself and love who you are and what you are working to achieve. See what others are doing and realize that they are working just as hard as you are to make an impact. Everyone wants to feel like they have a purpose. They want to feel like they belong just like you do. Don’t make someone else feel like they don’t belong or that they are below you. Give people opportunities to help them feel like they have a purpose.
Lastly, we asked him what drives him and he said young people. We inspire him.
He wants to help empower people and help them grow. He feels like he is a powerful person and a influential leader. I have to agree.
He left with this parting statement:
“Be who you are and what you are. Strive for success. Climb that ladder one step at a time. The slower you climb the stronger you will be.”
After he left the room I was in shock. He talked for maybe 30-minutes and it was the most powerful 30-minutes. I was so moved by everything he said. I was also tearing up. I was upset with myself for ever looking at him and stereotyping him. Even if it was just oh he looks homeless.
You never know that a person carries under all of their layers. You never will know who a person is until you sit and talk with them.
Encountering Jim today has taught me so many important lessons, but the biggest one is give everyone a chance before you make a judgement or opinion. I know it’s like one of the top rules, but I feel like it’s one of the hardest to follow. Next time you are going to judge someone stop and instead think about what kind of story the person may have. Everyone has a story. You wouldn’t want your story judged, so don’t judge others.
Jim chooses to live his life being the ‘mayor for the homeless’. He loves what he does and his story is amazing. Give people a chance your mind might be blown away. Mine was.
Every class my professor writes “YOU MAKE A DIFFERENCE!” on the board. He believes it. I believed and you should as well.
Go be an impact in someone’s life. ❤