Wendy Kalman
There are many ways to see and understand

Life changes

(GaborfromHungary via morguefile.com)
(GaborfromHungary via morguefile.com)

In the midst of a season of moving, going back to school, taking on a new role at work and preparing to get married, all life-changing activities, I’ve been watching a bit of television. CNBC reruns of Shark Tank, After the Tank and Undercover Boss. While I often rush to Google the products or companies while I am watching to see where they are now, what really hit me today was just how much individual lives are impacted by these experiences and by having someone give them attention.

In one episode of Undercover Boss, CEOs whose cover had been blown are meeting up and talking about their experiences. But the bosses also talk about the employees who, as a result of the show, received role changes and began training others or went back to school in order to pursue dreams. We see the employees themselves report on how their lives have changed.

I believe it is in each of us to become or do more; that is often required is someone to see the potential and to give us a chance. Over the years, I have read stories of mentors who’ve taken children under their wings, and the direction their lives consequently take. When I think of all the children who live with socio-economic hardship, difficult or unstable home lives or attend schools where expectations and performances are low, I can’t help but think of lost opportunities for planting seeds.

When I was in college at SUNY Albany in the mid-1980s we took a group approach to Big Brothers Big Sisters. Instead of one-on-one mentoring, we ran it like a once a week camp. Kids were brought in by bus on Sundays and were broken into four groups by age. We planned activities to do with them. I headed one group one year and enjoyed it, but it wasn’t until years later when I was looking for a Big Brother for my own kids that it began to sink in how important that one-on-one aspect is. In my case, I was post-divorce in Israel, and thought my sons could benefit from having a friend to talk to about what was going on. It was a futile search. I’d been there too long to qualify for any kind of services for new olim (immigrants). Though I wasn’t able to find one for them, it turned out okay. I read up what I could on the impact of divorce on kids and minimized whatever damage I could. Though many years ago, the point still stuck.

When you have someone interested in you, your wellbeing, your aspirations, you can do things you hadn’t planned on doing before. You can enter a new field, learn a new skill, grow a company, feel good about yourself and, within your gratitude, understand how we are all connected. Just as we need others, we also benefit from the satisfaction of helping others. It is amazing the impact of each of us can make on another’s life – and on  our own – if only we try.

Like a snowball effect, lives can be impacted in ways other than by mentoring or getting a shark to invest in one’s vision…like by moving, going back to school, taking on a new role at work and preparing to get married. And when our lives change – or when we change others’ lives, the possibilities of what can be are absolutely endless.

About the Author
Born in Brooklyn and raised on Lawn Guyland, Wendy lived in Jerusalem for over a decade submerged in Israeli culture; she has been soaked in Southern life in metro Atlanta since returning to the U.S. in 2003. An Ashkenazi mom of three Mizrahi sons, 26, 23 and 19, Wendy splits her time between corporate America, school, wedding planning, veejaying, blogging, Facebooking, enjoying the arts and digging out of the post-move carton chaos as she and her fiancé meld households.