Lessons we learn from d homeless

Posted: December 16, 2015 in Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

In the organisation I work at, I am asked to spend two
days a year volunteering to help the community. I will
be honest and say that most people I work with just
choose something easy or use it as an excuse to do a
team-building day. This year I decided to be bold and
do the exact opposite.
I was scrolling through the list of approved activities
and most of them just seemed like they weren’t really
helping anyone. I then came across one that caught my
eye, which was “helping the homeless.” Right now I am
focused on getting out of my comfort zone and growing
in any way that I can.
This activity seemed like the perfect way to do that, so
I signed up. When the day came around, I rolled up to
the homeless shelter and was not sure what to expect.
I have never been homeless myself, nor have I ever
seen what it’s like to have nowhere to live.
While I think I have some of the answers to their
problems, I am conscious that everyone has the right
to make their own choices, and it’s not up to me to
judge them or think that I am somehow superior to
Below are ten reasons why helping the
homeless allowed me to learn so many life
changing lessons:
1. It’s all in the beliefs and
The number one lesson I learnt at the homeless shelter
was that the one thing every person there was lacking
was the belief systems they needed to be successful.
When I asked some of the people there why they were
homeless, they told me a whole range of excuses and
believed that even having a meal was a major
If each of them were to spend a small amount of time
each day changing their mindset, then I am positive
they could turn their life around. What I learnt though
was that it’s easy for me to do that because I want to,
but it’s not so easy for them.
Many of the people I met were happy with their current
circumstances or had accepted where they were at so
there was no need for them to make any changes. It
all starts with a will to change and then the strategy
can come later.
2. Giving back feels
amazing (trust me)
A selfish lesson I learnt that applies to my own life,
which I knew but not to this extent, was that giving
back to the community and helping other people feels
amazing. My natural behaviour came through my work
on the day, and I was nicknamed “The Salesman.”
Even when I am not in a business environment, my true
personality shines through, which kind of surprised me.
In case you’re wondering, I was nicknamed the
salesman because apparently I was overselling the
meal options that were available on the day – I can’t
help it, it’s my job!
The whole time I was there I had a big smile on my
face while I handed out meals, explained how delicious
the food was going to be and topped up people’s cups
with coffee. I felt privileged to be able to do something
for someone else without expecting anything in return.
3. Change your story
One gentleman I met told me how he used to run the
train system here in Melbourne before he was made
redundant. For the last ten years, he has been
homeless. The man was warm, kind, humorous and
very charismatic.
Unfortunately, he had lost his identity and had a
recurring story in his mind that he couldn’t have that
type of responsibility again. He then asked me if he
could have a job working for me. I told him how hard
he would have to work and at the end of the
conversation, he chose to ignore my offer, which was
genuine – I don’t think he was ready for change, and
it’s not up to me to force him.
What it came down to was that he hadn’t got over the
failure of losing his previous job, and he didn’t have the
will to change his situation. The story he told himself
was now so strong in his mind that it had become his
I got the feeling that he though being homeless was
cool in some weird way because it shocked people and
got him the attention that he once had when he was
the master of the train system.
Sometimes you have to realise that you can’t help
everybody even if you want to because not everyone
wants to be helped. None the less, if your story is an
empowering one, then you will become a leader and
attract more followers than you could possibly imagine.
Change your story!
4. The environment can
bring you down
The people at the homeless shelter mostly came there
each day, not so much for the food, but to meet other
people in the same situation. This creates a downward
spiral for many of them because when they are trying
to improve their situation, they are surrounded by
people telling them to do the exact opposite.
This is why all successful people know that who you
spend time with, and your daily environment, is the
difference in you achieving your goals or living on the
streets. If you’re someone who is going through a
tough time, or you are not sure why you are miserable,
then change your environment.
If you spend time with someone who is inspirational for
long enough, then the effect will rub off on you. Just
like the homeless people experience, the same goes in
the opposite direction too. Imagine if we could get a
homeless person away from their environment for a
few days – do you think it would help them to change
their situation?
5. Sugar is used to numb
the pain
The thing that scared me at the homeless shelter,
which I was not prepared for, was just the sheer
volume of sugar that each person consumed. When I
asked the chef what the number one item was on the
food list each week he told me it was sugar.
I am not joking when I say that some of the people
were filling half their coffee cup with sugar. I began to
see that sugar for homeless people was a drug-free
way of numbing the pain , and it was relatively low cost
for them to have access to.
Health and sugar intake are directly linked to people’s
socioeconomic status. Most millionaires I have met
know that eating healthy is essential to their success,
whereas the lower classes in society don’t have the
same beliefs.
Be careful of your sugar intake, as it will suck all of
your positive energy!
6. One kind act can
transform someone’s day
While I was serving breakfast, I noticed a lady that
came in crying, and she was very upset. Rather than go
over and talk to her (she was in no state) I decided to
not judge her and just bring her food. The moment I
put a plate of food down and asked her if she wanted
coffee, her day was transformed.
Sometimes it’s not what you say but what you do that
can change people. One act that shows you care can
change the way you are perceived and have a positive
impact on other people. It even made me feel good
because she stopped crying and enjoyed her food.
7. Clothing and hygiene
are essential
The appearance of a homeless person is most
noticeable by their clothing. Even if they were to go for
a job interview tomorrow, they would probably not be
successful because they don’t appear in a good state
due to the way they dress.
At the shelter, there is a shower section where
homeless people can clean themselves up. As I was
coming out of the bathroom, I noticed a man who had
just had a shower and was having a shave. He had
brand new runners on, but the rest of his clothes were
quite old.
By looking at his face, you could tell that he felt better
about himself and was going to be able to attack the
day with some confidence. This all comes from the
way he was dressed and the fact he was clean after
his shower. Compared to everyone else, he was the
closest person to reaching success that I met.
This lesson applies to everyone. Make sure you try and
dress well at all times, brush your teeth, have a
shower once a day, keep your facial hair under control
and take pride in your appearance. If you don’t, you
could be turning away relationships before people even
have a chance to get to know you.
8. Reading can be the
I noticed in the crowd of homeless people that the
ones that appeared to be the least affected by their
situation were the ones who were reading books. Many
people donate books to the shelter so the homeless
people can pick one up and read it.
Some of them used their tough situation to pick up a
book and try and learn something that might help them
think differently and get beyond where they are in their
life. This lesson can apply to us all and I strongly
encourage you to read a book or blog post to get some
skills and grow your knowledge.
9. All skills are
Even though I have never run a homeless shelter, the
skills I have learnt in business are 100% transferrable.
Within a few hours I was following the system,
assessing stock levels, using my organising skills (keep
everything simple) and going to the food bank
warehouse to negotiate some more food supplies.
My personality and ability to sell can work in any
environment no matter what, and so can yours. It
doesn’t matter how little experience you have at
something, if you understand the basics of success
then you can apply it in any field.
10. The way to solve
problems is not through
Upon entering the homeless shelter, I thought that the
ay to solve everybody’s problems there was to go down
to the local supermarket and buy everyone’s food (I
was naively contemplating doing this). What I learnt by
the end of the day is that money is not the issue.
The people that suffer from homelessness suffer from
mostly psychological issues that have come from the
way they live their life and the values they stand for.
Even if I gave each of them ten thousand dollars, they
would probably be back to the same scenario in a few
If we invest money in changing the way homeless
people think, and counselling them, then they will have
the beliefs they need to create their own success,
rather than rely on society. This is because money is
just an exchange of value, and you have to have a
positive mindset in order to give more than is expected
to other people, which in turn creates value (aka
So there you have it, if you haven’t already, go out and
spend a day at a homeless shelter and see what
lessons you can learn that could help you grow as a
person and in your business.

posted by Hari Krish

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