What Impact Can We Have On the Life of Another Person?

I just finished watching the only TV program I watch on a regular basis – CBS Sunday Morning. I appreciate their consistent cavalcade of positive, meaningful stories. Today’s program was no exception. One of the stories today highlighted the life stories of a living legend, Sidney Poitier http://tinyurl.com/bp9qnje .

Sidney Poitier


An integral part of his story, one I had never heard before, was shared. It caused me to reflect afterward, “What impact can I have on the life of another person?” Born as the youngest of a large and poor Bahamian family, he moved to New York at age 17 to become an actor. Washing dishes at a restaurant to  survive, the young Poitier was approached by an elderly Jewish waiter, a fellow employee. The following is from the CBS Sunday Morning account:

“There was one of the waiters, a Jewish guy, elderly man, and he looked over at me and was looking at me for quite awhile. I had a newspaper, it was called Journal American. And he walked over to me, and he said, ‘What’s new in the paper?’ And I looked up at this man. I said to him, ‘I can’t tell you what’s in the paper, because I can’t read very well.’ He said, ‘Let me ask you something, would you like me to read with you?’ I said to him, ‘Yes, if you like.’

“Now let me tell you something: That man, every night, the place is closed, everyone’s gone, and he sat there with me week after week after week. And he told me about punctuations. He told me where dots were and what the dots mean here between these two words, all of that stuff.”

“He took you through high school,” said (Leslie) Stahl.

“Yes, he did. And it wasn’t for long. I learned a lot. And then things began to happen.”

I’m sure this elderly Jewish man, at the time, had no idea the gift he was giving to the world as he offered to help the young man that day. He had no idea that Sidney Poitier’s future would inspire thousands to reach for what was previously out of reach. I believe he did this unselfish act of kindness, teaching a kid to read, because it felt like the right thing to do. I’d even guess it came as a knee-jerk reaction.

So I ask myself, “What impact, then, can I have on the life of another person? What simple act of kindness can I do to change the life of another person?” I believe the answer will appear in my everyday life, perhaps even today. And when the opportunity comes to give, I shouldn’t even think about it. I should just do it…like an elderly Jewish waiter in New York did for a dishwasher who couldn’t tell him “…what’s new in the paper.”

Which Pencil Will You Choose?

Staying organized is a challenge I have been working on for a long time. I am getting much better thanks to the professional advice I gather. Some of the best advice is from my friend, Helene Segura, CEO of Living Order San Antonio http://www.livingordersa.com. Here is a bit of advice on how to start your day using a great analogy…picking a pencil:

What Does Your Pencil Choice Say About You?

Helene Segura, M.A. Ed, CPO®

CEO of LivingOrder® San Antonio

Every day is exciting for me because I get to coach an individual or group on organizing and productivity and help them curb the stress that they’re under. Sometimes, though, I get a request to return to my past life as a teacher, and each time I learn something new from observing the students.

I get a call every year to conduct a workshop series at a particular high school with students who have been removed from their standard classroom environments. They have been invited to leave their home campuses for a variety of reasons – misbehavior, truancy or arrests. The choices and mistakes they’ve made have caused them to fall behind in their credits by one year or more. My job is to get them focused for their exit exams and help them with decision-making skills along the way. In a nutshell, I try to rewire how their brains think and plan for life so they can become productive citizens.

We have the same routine at the beginning of each one of my sessions. The students pick up their activity packets and borrow a pencil and highlighter to use for the class period. It struck me the other day when I watched how the students chose their pencils that their choices reflected who they are. Those who chose their pencils based on the sharpness of the writing tip were the same students who were working hard to make changes in their lives and get back on track. The students who chose their pencils based on the condition of the eraser were the same students who were fumbling aimlessly in life. They were already planning to make mistakes and erase the mess. Their counterparts, on the other hand, chose based on the tool they needed to complete their work; if they wound up needing an eraser later, they knew where to get one.

The attitude you have in your approach to projects will determine your success. If you start every day prepping for your tasks and telling yourself you will complete them, then you will. But if you start every day with the expectation that you won’t meet the standards, well, you’ll do just that.

So, how will you choose your pencil: by the sharpness of the tip or the size of the eraser?


Organizing and productivity expert Helene Segura helps stressed out folks – especially entrepreneurs and educators – regain control of their chaotic living and working spaces by teaching clients how to understand their core issues causing disorganization and thereby prevent it in the future.  She is a Certified Professional Organizer® and Certified Productive Environment Specialist™ and has provided coaching for clients as varied as authors, attorneys, physicians, artists, students, teachers, domestic engineers and business owners. As the owner of LivingOrder® San Antonio, Helene also conducts informative organizing workshops for larger groups such as non-profits, schools and businesses, and serves on the trailblazing team providing organizing help online at The Clutter Diet.  She has been a featured organizing expert in publications such as Woman’s Day Magazine, as well as on Fox, CBS, and NBC affiliates. Helene is the author of Less Stress for Teachers: More Time & An Organized Classroom.



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