I spent some time watching homeless people as they solicited donations on a busy street. What I found was not anything I would have expected.

While it may not seem like a terribly exciting thing to do, it actually made me do some self-reflection about life, work and the daily drag we call our lives.

The people I observed represented a variety of ages and races, both male and female. Some fit the traditional stereotype of the homeless; dirty, obviously malnourished and generally unkempt. Others didn’t look as bad, but they still showed signs of personal distress.

They each had various methods of asking for money. Some sat silently holding a sign while others actively engaged those passing by. Shoppers and others walking by often had to zig zag around the homeless as they blocked the sidewalk.

As the people passed by, reactions varied.

Some were annoyed, others were oblivious. Some seemed concerned, others just appeared intimidated. Some women clutched their purses. Some men puffed up their chests trying to look tough.

It was interesting watching the human nature of those passing by, but I wasn’t concerned about these reactions. I wanted to see how the homeless reacted to the negativity and rejection they were constantly being faced with.

Those who were passive just sat on the sidewalk. They waited and received nothing.

Some stood around, simply asking for change in a monotone, repetitive voice. They didn’t appear very successful either.

One man stood out. He had the demeanor of a carnival games worker.

This man actively engaged people as they walked by. He was pointing out things he was observing. Whether it was something someone was wearing, or something they were doing, he noticed. He was trying to be funny, he was doing things to interact, engage and attract attention.

He was being extremely proactive showing his high energy personality, but more import, he was showing that he’s human. He was doing things that were above and beyond what the other homeless were doing.

Not everyone who walked by seemed interested in him and many just ignored him. He never seemed discouraged though. Despite being turned down time after time, he persisted with the same enthusiasm. Over time, his actions paid off.

This man was the money maker during the time I watched.

The other homeless who were nearby never said anything to their competitor who was obviously keeping money from going into their cups.

I figured they would have at least be bothered enough to move somewhere else because they weren’t making any money, but they didn’t. They just stayed where they were and maintained their course of action (or inaction). Nothing changed for them.

That was the point where I started thinking about how that relates to life.

Whether it’s not liking our job, not having enough money or just not being happy in general, we either just complain about our situation or do nothing. I’ve often heard the saying “it is what it is”, which bothers me. People have become too accepting of not being happy.

It is what it is because WE made it what it is…

Or, it is what it is because we allow it to be that way. We sit around hoping for change, but chalk it up to failure or bad luck when nothing happens.

You control your own destiny!

If you’re trying to get a new job, a promotion or whatever, why wouldn’t you to try to stand out? Why wouldn’t you want to make yourself known?

Perhaps it’s only a matter being in the right place at the right time, or doing just a little bit more than everyone else to stand out, but if you’re stagnant, it’s almost a guarantee nothing will happen.

It was valuable lesson I learned that day.

Even under the most adverse conditions, we need to keep our head up. We need to stay positive and focused because that is what drives the change we want. Stand out from the crowd. Don’t just sit around waiting for something to come to you.


If what you want in life isn’t coming fast enough, try something different. If you do nothing, it’s pretty obvious nothing will happen. Passively wanting a different life will leave you right where you are.

It’s easy to forget, or ignore the fact that failure is not a bad thing. It’s an opportunity to try something different. Failure is always a teachable moment if you allow it to be.

We get discouraged so easily, yet we all have the ability to make change in our lives. We just have to want it. By wanting it, I mean you really have to WANT it with your every hope, wish, dream, desire or whatever you want to call it. You have to make it a part of your life.

That means doing whatever it takes to make it happen. Things aren’t going to magically appear, but there is technically nothing stopping you from bettering yourself if you actually work for it and make a concerted effort.

Whatever it is you want, go for it!