My stance on the worth and value of people is very simple:
Everyone holds immense experiential value and worth.
Everyone. There is no exception to this. I propose that those who can’t see this carry a limited and diminished view on life. I have stated in the past that I do not believe in absolutes and this is one of those times where I may contradict myself and hold to a strong conviction. However, I will also state, with humor, that if we are able to start manufacturing humans in the future, then my ‘absolute’ stance may change. Until this absurd future comes to be, I hold my ground on my current views. I spent 2012 exploring this notion of all-encompassing value and worth and discovered that if we can learn to create platforms for each other to share our life stories then we can discover that everyone holds incredible value in life experience and wisdom.
I’m revisiting the concept of value and worth today because on Saturday I was able to take part in a non-profit program designed to teach those suffering from great adversity the needed skills to interview well and procure jobs. I met some incredible people working to overcome daunting troubles in their lives. The workshop is a 5 week bi-annual program run by Courageous Women, which was founded by an inspiring woman, Toshonna Ross. I had the pleasure of meeting Toshonna yesterday and learned about her story of transcending adversity herself and becoming an inspiration for us all. My friend Christine was part of the team of trainers teaching the interview skills and she had reached out to me to come in and volunteer as a mock interviewer/employer. Two life missions I have set myself on are tackling the homeless issue and human trafficking issue. This volunteer opportunity fell under this umbrella of my life missions and I made it a priority for the weekend.
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from the classes. I anticipated dealing with a varying degree of people coming from different sets of adversity: domestic violence, homelessness, poverty, etc. I was correct in assuming so. For 4 hours I conducted mock interviews along with feedback sessions. I didn’t hold back. I have been part of hiring teams before and conducted many tough interviews. The students had been studying hard and it showed. I could sense nervousness from some of them, but no one capitulated to their nerves and they all acted with great poise and confidence, taking all constructive criticism extremely well. I was surprised to see so much hope and courage in their eyes throughout my interactions. The training team had done a great job prepping the students. If anything, I was nervous because I wanted to be able to serve the students well and prepare them for their upcoming job fair interviews. I humbly hope I was able to meet their expectations.
There was one stand out story that deeply inspired me. One of my interviewees, Adrian (last name withheld for privacy reasons), was one of my best interviewees. When it was his turn, he came up to me with confidence, giving me a firm handshake and looking me in the eye. I challenged him throughout the interview to see if he would stumble, but he answered all of my questions quickly, candidly and honestly. He let his personality shine and even made me laugh at one point. It wasn’t just his personality that shone through, but also his ability to tackle some tough questions and prove why he was the right man for the job. After the interview, we had the same feedback session that I gave everyone else. That was that, or so I thought.
At the end of all of the interview sessions, we all (trainers/students) gathered for a group feedback/debrief session. It was an opportunity for the students to voice their feedback. I was overwhelmed with how much the students appreciated our time and knowledge. These people have all been dealing with great troubles in their lives and to see them all with smiles and holding themselves with self-confidence carried more weight than any spoken thanks could. As I sat and digested all the feedback, Adrian raised his hand and I nervously anticipated what he had to say.
He told the class that he had learned that it was ok to smile and let his personality shine.
Such a simple thing that most of us take for granted on a daily basis. I learned after the group dispersed that Adrian was considered one of the quiet ones and rarely participated in discussion. He was withdrawn and kept to himself. Everyone was surprised to hear him speak up during group discussion. The fact that he did so well in his interview and spoke up afterward meant that the program had reached him and unlocked a hidden potential which was always lurking within him. I learned about this as all the trainers met for drinks and snacks afterwards. I kept up my cheerful appearances, but secretly my internal monologue was speechless and deeply moved. I am proud to have been part of Adrien’s process of coming out of his shell and wish him, and all of the students, the best of luck at the upcoming job fair.
It is my enduring hope that we can all one day come to the understanding that each and everyone one of us carries tremendous value and worth and that it is up to us to learn how to unlock it for one another.
– Deeply Moved Rabbit