“Rescuing a Single Life” – Tom, Judy, and The Homeless Coach

“Whoever rescues a single life earns as much merit as though he had rescued the entire world.” This is a quote from the Talmud, also mentioned in the movie Schindler’s List http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0108052/. I have had the honor to have met two people who have done such an act of selfless compassion. The first is Tom Baum, founder of The Homeless Coach, a live, interactive social networking approach to reverse homelessness http://www.homelesscoach.org/. Tom has combined his experience and success in the high-tech industry with his huge heart for the plight of the homeless population in Austin and the world. The Homeless Coach’s mission is to reverse homelessness “a single life” at a time.

The second person is Judy Knotts. Judy has developed a mentoring relationship with Kim, the first graduate of the Homeless Coach program. While Judy’s background and experience in private education gives her enough knowledge to help Kim, her involvement goes way beyond logical giving and enters into heartfelt compassion for another people.

Tom mentioned to me that he was scheduled to interview Kim when the StoryCorps http://storycorps.org/ mobile recording booth came to Austin last month. I asked if I could volunteer to interview her instead. I knew a bit about Kim’s story before, but this interview opened my eyes regarding how a life can be transformed from familial abuse, to 22 years on the streets, to coming clean and sober, to earning her associates degree in Medical Billing and Coding from an accredited university, to now studying for a full Bachelor’s degree in Health Care.

In a recent email, Judy writes (to both Tom and I), “Mike you are great on the tape, terrific voice, amazing articulation, and inspired questions. I have heard the CD 3 times since getting it on Saturday. Kim was with me in my car when we began to listen. When I got to the part where she described being beaten, I had to turn it off for a time. It was just too painful. Kim said, “Do you now know why I call  you Mama?”  I get it now. She has never called me anything else. Funny to hear her call me Judy on the CD. There were other things I didn’t know about her. There is value in having someone a bit removed and also experienced conduct the interviews. Kim astounded me with her insights and I told her. She said, ”My speaking is still not good.” We are working on this, hard to change a life time of grammar errors! Amazing men, you two! Proud to know you!”

I am flattered by Judy’s kind words, but more honored to be associated with two people as incredible as Tom and Judy. I hope all of you can some day know a Tom and Judy of your own, so you can personally witness, as I have, how someone can “…rescue a single life.”

Change Your Lens

“The lens through which your brain views the world shapes your reality.” Change the lens and change your happiness. This is the message from a great TED talk http://tinyurl.com/772s6qw from Shawn Achor, CEO of Good Think Inc., where he researches and teaches about positive psychology. I’ve heard versions of this idea before, but never in such an easy to understand, humorous way. He is a great storyteller!

As I was watching and listening to the video, I couldn’t help but think about all the people I know who spend lots of time with the lens of their brain focused on the negative and horrible things in life, whether in their personal world or the world in general. This simple idea of changing their lens is foreign to many, but effective to all.

How to change your lens is a task that I’ll leave to you and your friendly psychologist. But I’ll take a stab at it, since it seems so simplistic to me. The question you should ask yourself is, “What lens am I looking through today?” I have found from interviewing many people who have gone through horrific experiences in life, the most control we have is how we view what is happening right now in our lives. I’m not saying we can change the facts of what’s happening around us, I’m saying we can change how we view those facts.

As an example, just last week, my wife and I found out that two people very close to us have been diagnosed with cancer. While this news is very serious, we are choosing to view it through a lens of how we can show our love and support and how can we help them communicate their feelings wishes to their loved ones. One way I recommend is to utilize the service of a great website my friend, Jay Drayer, developed called CareFlash http://www.careflash.com/ . CareFlash is a safe and private online community you can set up to keep friends and loved ones up to date with what’s happening with the medical challenge you’re going through. It also helps the person going through the challenge focus the lens of their brain onto a loving, caring community of people who they are surrounded by.

Please view Shawn Achor’s talk and see if it changes the lens of your brain and how the view of your reality moves toward happiness.