Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Homeless Lifestyle Design Part 1

(photo by ep_jhu)

In helping others become Rock Stars and living a life they can be proud of, there needs to be a concept of lifestyle design, or at least a mental realization that change can be made and consistent effort to make that change. Working on the challenge that most people do not want to be changed, and the fact that if you take a look at how hard it is to motivate yourself - you can see the challenges that are in front of you when partaking on implementing a lifestyle design program for others.

Now add the state of being homeless to the picture. An entire new mind frame is put into place and new barriers to encounter. We started to figure this out last year during resume and job prep training classes for the homeless. We held these classes every other Wednesday in the downtown library. What started as an optimistic mission ended up serving only 1-2 people at each session, and slowly dissolved from there. This was clearly not the answer.

The first step towards cultivating a lifestyle change, or embarking on a new adventure (whether career, business, family or whatever), is not necessarily a physical journey, but a mental transition that needs to occur. Thus resumes were not the answer. Neither are cover letters and you can throw out job fairs.

The Success Story

There have been numerous success stories out of the Rock For Hunger camp. The most memorable came from a middle aged homeless man, Phil. Phil visited us at one of those resume sessions, but it wasn't the resume that changed his life. After starting with going into his work history, something clicked. We started to connect with him on his core level. The level where he felt comfortable opening up to us about his life, his feelings, his past and his accomplishments. This led to a sort of counseling, or therapeutic session, where he was finally breaking free from the reality that he had to be homeless for the rest of his life.

Phil went on to work on his resume that evening with new intent. The results was a rich history in catering and banquet work, with experience, references and a clear path towards his next move. The following day we took Phil to a career fair and with his new found motivation he had the confidence to not only talk to employers, but impress them enough to give him an interview for an unadvertised Banquet Management position. BTW, he got the job and we saw him last week downloading apps onto his iPhone while walking around downtown.

Instant Gratification

We all have this infatuation that we need instant gratification in life. The Internet Millionaire. The weight loss transformation. Life changing stock trades. Microwave meals. You know, all that good stuff.

These things happen, but generally they are still not the result of overnight success, but hard work coupled with timing and mental preparedness are what make these instant gratifications seem real to us. Leo from Zen Habits today wrote this about his personal fitness:
This is what gets many people — they expect to see results immediately, within the first month or so, because the magazines they read make it seem so instantaneous. But real fitness rarely happens this way — it’s a process and a lifestyle change. I started out in really bad shape, really overweight, and all I did in the beginning was to quit smoking and start running. A year later, I ran a marathon and was a vegetarian — but I was still kinda fat. A year after that, I was still exercising regularly, and had made a lot of progress, but I still had a ways to go. Now, 3.5 years later, I’m in great shape — slimmer and more muscular and much healthier

His statement redefines the motto of consistent efforts and mental success. While to the present eye, it looks like we transitioned Phil into an overnight success, it was actually years of hard work, schooling and business sense to get his skills and references up to par. What was lacking was the mental and inner confidence to see he had what he needed all along. Phil found his core influence and thus looks like an overnight rock star. The appearance of over night success is what helps organizations grow and businesses explode with PR.

Preparing Your Confidence Levels

(Music as a form of creativity, feeling and faith)

There are a few things that I have learned that help you walk with that "thing" in your step, that chest out, balls to the wall confidence that says, "I own this."

The first is having faith at some level. On Business Backpacker last week, Brooke Ferguson wrote about trusting our intuition and feelings:
The challenge with moving forward on instinct is that often times, our results are not guaranteed, the resources are not currently available, and we have no reason whatsoever to know it will work.

I am not a church going person at this point in my life. But I have faith. Faith that things are working the way someone planned them to. Faith in my abilities to work with less fortunate individuals. Faith to teach businesses and other young professionals in how to promote themselves to get ahead in life. Faith that will some effort everyone has the chance to break free from whatever crap they are going through and enjoy their life. Everyone needs a little faith.

The second confidence booster is community. You need the people around you that are going to impact your life for the best, listen to your ideas, contribute to the success of others in the community and as a result everyone grows better because of it. This community can come from a church or religious group, it can also come at your house on a Sunday afternoon chatting with friends about life, love and the pursuit of happiness.

Community can happen online, with blogs, forums and social networks. It can also happen offline at meetups, sporting events, public counseling and through associations. But I really feel that you need community to grow. You need to feed off ideas and get your thoughts out in order to express them.

The last (for today) is accountability. You become confident through consistency at rocking something. I am confident that I can rock any presentation on personal branding, SEO, Gen-Y, whatever, because I consistently practice, educate and write on these topics. I am also help accountable by my peers, readers, clients and critics. If I just wrote and said what I wanted with no consequences and public court, well then what makes me better than any other Joe Schmo talking about the same stuff. Your actions need accountability and that comes from your community.

These steps all act together. You need to have faith in order to find a community that believes in your ideals and lifestyle journey. You need to have the community to be held accountable. And you also need to use your faith and hold others accountable in order for your community to grow.

Addressing the Homeless

(Chris and me on a Monday night food sharing for the homeless)

Chris and I were talking on Monday about what drives us to do what we do, in our own lives and with Rock For Hunger and the giving side of our personalities. In this talk we got started on how we can only help those that want to be helped. Let me explain a little.

We both have ambitions of going on mission trips all over the world. We began to ponder the differences between helping a village in Africa or South America and performing the same tasks for a group here in Orlando.

In Africa, they would stop their entire lives to help us out in building a new water well or teaching them about communication technology or education. They take pride in making their community better so everyone can benefit and improve their living conditions.

Here in Orlando (and I would bet most of the U.S.), people are not as open to these situations. Most would watch as others did the work for them, expect something for nothing, or would be a no-call, no-show to training or education sessions. This is a frustration where we say that we can only help those that are willing to take the steps to actually change their lives, a lifestyle design plan to end their current situation and enter a more appealing, more satisfying existence.

We are the Community

(We need to be part of the community - earn trust, listen and create bonds)

The support system is broken for the homeless. There is no online network, blog or family system for them to take part in. The homeless shelters act as band aids, and are overcrowded. The resources are on waiting lists and the people working for these government programs are working for the paycheck, not to help anyone improve their life and contribute back to our country as a tax paying citizen (as evidence by the phone hold times, the no call backs and short non-informational email responses).

We are the community that they need. We are the support system. By building trust, or faith and by offering a community of like minded people and by holding this group accountable (both for positives as well as negatives), we can make an impact and give them their rock star moment.

Over the next few weeks, I am involved in creating what is to be known as the Homeless Lifestyle Design Course. In many ways it is much like the Lifestyle Design sites and blogs I read everyday. The race for freedom, independence, financial stability and metal clarity. The life hacks, building tools and resources to enable a stable structure for living the way your mind has intended, except we are working with the homeless. The forgotten few (or many) that society has written off. Very similar to a cubicle dwelling soul that longs for Tuesday surfing and running a business remotely, this group is looking for direction and purpose. It is time that someone gave it to them.

Closing This Up

If anyone has any thoughts on this piece (wrote it on a whim today as I was exploring the first module), would like to contribute to this body of work (financially, through research or helping produce content) to just learning more or using the course in your own life (this is for the homeless, but can be used by anyone looking to improve their lives), then please get in touch, leave a comment, retweet this or pass it on to someone who may. Thanks for your time and I look forward to rocking with you all as we grow together.

-Greg Rollett


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