connecting the pieces

When you are first introduced to someone, during that initial conversation you ask them questions about their occupation, where they’re from, what school they attended, social activities, etc. Why do we all do this? We do this to make assessments about their background like their socio-economic status and the type of people they affiliate with regularly. The purpose of collecting this information is to gauge if we have any similar values. We instinctively go through this vetting ritual to determine if we have anything in common with this person, is there a connection between us that can add value to our life.

If there’s a common link that can potentially be meaningful, we will offer that person the opportunity to connect with us further. If there’s no apparent link, we will most likely end the interaction there. Therefore, offering ourselves to connect with another person is a gift that we consciously decide whether to give or withhold.

So what is the Connect with your Calling project about? An article in March 2014 issue of O Magazine by Dr. Sanjay Gupta (http://www.oprah.com/health/Just-Say-Hello-Fight-Loneliness) highlights a study that asserts a person’s quality of life is based on the number of meaningful connections they have with others and at any given time roughly 60 million Americans suffer from loneliness. To advocate for better mental health, O Magazine is promoting purposeful social interactions with the “Just Say Hello Campaign” where people are encouraged to say hello to a person they wouldn’t normally talk to or reconnect with a person they haven’t been in touch with for a while.

I plan to take this campaign one step further, during The Connect with your Calling project, I will intentionally seek to connect people that on the surface wouldn’t have anything in common but can empower each other to reach their full potential. I hope that you will follow this journey with me. It’s my desire that you realize there’s power in connecting that can help you as well as someone else create a more meaningful life.

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Serena with comforter
I wanted to give you an update on the fundraiser you donated to for Serena’s college supplies. Jillian and I did finish the 5K in about 40 minutes. I attached the video of her running and juggling. We raised about $1,200 for Serena thanks to your tremendous response.
This past weekend was tax free weekend so we went shopping and it was an amazing experience for Serena. She was able to buy her first pair of name brand tennis shoes. She has a retail job where she stands for long periods of time and needed shoes that wouldn’t hurt her feet.
In her dorm room, she’ll have a bed to sleep in for the first time so she was able to buy bed sheets and a comforter as well as all the items she needed for her dorm room. She was able to get under garments and clothes she needed as well as a scientific calculator for her Pre-Calculus class.
She was overwhelmed that people she didn’t know would help her so she would have what she needs for her 1st year of college. Thank you so much for your generous support to help this wonderful young woman that has persevered over many obstacles to get a full scholarship and be the first in her family to attend college.

This blog was written by Major Ethan Frizzell of The Salvation Army.

Social capital (like human capital and even physical capital) is not a single, uni-dimensional variable. Rather, there are many forms of social capital, and different forms have different consequences.

  • bonding social capital (that is, links among people who are like one an- other) is important for “getting by,”
  • bridging social capital (that is, links among people who are unlike one another) is crucial for “getting ahead,”
  • linking social capital (that is, vertical links to people in positions of authority) plays a special role in development and poverty alleviation.

Let us build social capital together.

There are many kinds of social capital: [3]

  • financial – Money available for investment Real estate, equipment, and/or infrastructure
  • physical – Training that increases productivity on the job
  • human – Relationships of trust embedded in social networks
  • cultural – High cultural knowledge that can be turned to the owner’s socioeconomic advantage

Social capital is recognized as an individual and a collective property.  Many researchers take it for granted that social capital is collective, but most social surveys implicitly measure social capital at the individual level.[4]  Here is the ideal-typical situation in which individuals discover and use social capital: a group of people become connected via a certain kind of relations, and regardless of the exact nature of their relations, the members find that something possessed or produced by the group either itself is a valuable asset or can help them acquire other desirable benefits.

Three things in this situation are recognized as social capital, which overlap on top of each other: [5]

  • group membership
  • features of the relationship
  • resources under the control of the group or dependent on the existence of the group.

At the core of social capital is trust with three crucial elements:[6]

  • Repeat exposure to others tends to lead to greater confidence that others can be trusted (assuming that parties respect conditions 2 and 3 below);
  • The parties are honest in their communications; and
  • The parties follow through on the commitments they make.

Individual social capital is defined by three dimensions: [7]

  • the (number of) connections in the individual social network
  • the resources these connections give access to
  • the availability of these resources from alters to the individual, of which the willingness of alters is a major component.

On this basis, we define an individual’s social capital here as: [8]

The collection of resources owned by the members of an individual’s personal social network, which may become available to the individual as a result of the history of these relationships.  

Connect with Your Calling is found in connections, in networks that bring forth relationships that make the whole community stronger.  

I’ve been writing this blog for 3 years about helping people find connections they need that can empower them fulfill their purpose.  I’m believing that I will be able to use this gift in my full-time career. I’ve gotten close a couple of times but so far nothing has materialized. Regardless, I’ve loved helping other people get the connections they need.

Okay, so I was set up. I thought I was going to see a comedy show in Nashville but in the middle of the jokes, I received a profound message.  Michael Jr. is a great comedian who’s also a Christian. He does some of his shows at churches. I believe my answer was revealed at his show.

I grew up as a latch key kid and from about the age of eight I had to be very independent and responsible for myself. I’ve always taken pride in the things I was able to accomplish on my own without support from anyone. The problem with this is that because I’m seen as a strong, dependable person, I help others and don’t like asking others for help unless I can’t do it.

Michael Jr. showed me that I have a problem receiving from others. Getting things from people makes me feel uncomfortable unless it’s for a special occasion. I may be the reason that other people haven’t offered to support me. Would if that’s the reason my dreams haven’t materialized? What I finally accepted is that I should give to others but I should let others also be blessed by letting them give to me.

Michael Jr. did something so amazing at his show. He called up an audience member that happened to be deaf and her interpreter. He asked her if there was anything she needed. She was reluctant (she probably also had a problem receiving) but she eventually said she could use a special needs nurse to help take care of her child so she could go out on a date sometimes with her husband.

Michael Jr. asked if there was a special needs nurse in the audience and the was only one. So he connected them and the nurse was willing to help care for her child. Of course this gave me goose bumps as a person who loves to connect people. Stay tuned, he plans on doing this more at his shows and I hope I can somehow be a part of helping this project.

 

 

Serena

I heard a story of a remarkable young woman named Serena that I wanted to help.

Serena’s parents immigrated to the US from Laos and then they had her and her younger brother. After her parents separated, they went to live with her mother. The state removed them from her mother after she attempted to kill her and her brother and placed them with their father. By this time her father had remarried and had two more children.

She worked 30 hours a week and tried her best to provide dinner and other necessities for herself and her younger brothers and take care of them while her father and step-mother worked second and third shifts.

She always wanted to be the first person in her family to go to college but knew financially that it wasn’t possible. With all of her responsibilities she never gave up and worked hard to maintain a 3.75 GPA and passed the state certification exam to be a Certified Clinical Medical Assistant and received a Presidential Scholarship from Tennessee State University.

I teach a class called Connect with your Calling, where we help people discover their gifts and guide them towards fulfilling their life’s purpose. One of my students, Jillian Quilty works as a Caseworker for at-risk youth.

We decided to run the Nashville Rock and Roll 5K together on April 29th, 2017 to support Serena’s college dream and raise money for some of her other college expenses. Jillian has a special talent of jogging and juggling so she’ll be juggling during the 5K.

Throughout Serena’s whole life adults made it seem like she wasn’t meant to be successful so she worked hard to prove to people, friends, and peers in similar situations that it doesn’t matter where you come from or where you are, if you work hard and make the most of where you are then you can achieve your life’s purpose.

Serena wants to major in English and earn her ESL (English as a Second Lanuage). After she graduates she wants to teach in Thailand and help builds schools and believes she was put on this earth to uplift and serve others who are less fortunate.

We want Serena to be able to focus fully on her college studies and would like to raise money for things her scholarship doesn’t cover like college books, school supplies, dorm room items such as bed sheets, and money for her transportation costs riding the bus.

Please support our Go Fund Me Page at https://www.gofundme.com/we-support-serenas-college-dream. I’m using the hashtags #WeSupportSerena, #RNRNashville and #ConnectWithYourCalling. I’ll continue to post updates about Serena’s story on this blog.

I’ve discussed in previous posts about how to advance your career by figuring out how to be an asset to people who can open doors of opportunity for you professionally. I would like to elaborate on some specific ways to accomplish this. If people see you as an answer to their problem, you’ll be considered as a resource instead of a burden.

  • (WHAT) Know what you bring to the table

I believe every person has something they do great in a unique way that differentiates them from anyone else. I’ve recommended Gallup’s Strength Finder Assessment if you need some guidance to figure out your top strengths. Your abilities and gifts will be WHAT you can do to be the answer.

https://www.gallupstrengthscenter.com/Purchase/en-US/Product

  •  (WHY) What problems do you want to solve?

You should be passionate about what your called to do. If you’re not interested in fixing the problem then that’s not your calling. This should be your motive as to WHY you’re motivated to do something.

  • (WHO) Who’s the person that you can help?

This is where you have to do some research on WHO you want to help by talking to your connections to figure out their needs. Also, you may want to start serving people where it doesn’t benefit you so you can gain experience using your abilities and later help people where it does benefit you as a strategic career move.

  • (HOW) How can you use your skills to fix the problem?

Once you know who you’re helping then you can customize your approach on HOW to use your specific abilities to be the answer to their problem.

As you continue to build a reputation for being the answer doing what you’re called to do, opportunities will start to present themselves.

It’s an understatement that the US has just experienced one of the most divisive political seasons in modern history. Unlike those people who weren’t looking forward to discussing politics over Thanksgiving dinner, I encouraged the discussion. The reason is because now that the election is over, even if you’re passionate about your candidate, we all need to learn to understand a different point of view that you may not agree with and start the healing process.

Banning people from Thanksgiving because they supported a different candidate is not only causing problems in families but will only continue to cause the country to be so divided that we can’t make any progress as a country. Putting aside our differences, learning to be tolerant and work together on the issues we can agree on for the good of the country is the only way we can become better as a nation.

Instead of arguing over political positions, it might be more productive to ask the opposite side to explain the reason they have a certain position and not judge them, then see if there’s any common ground in some area you can agree on, if not on that particular issue than another issue. Hopefully you’ll be surprised that you have more in common than you initially expected.

Even though Washington is broken and can’t work together, we don’t have to follow their lead. It’s important as Americans that we get this right to make things better for all of us and show our children that are watching that we can put our differences aside and work together for the common good of our communities.

I don’t normally write about television shows but I had to make an exception in this case because I was shocked to learn some information about a particular scam. I was watching American Greed on CNBC. This show is about people similar to Bernie Madoff who scammed people out of millions of dollars by operating sometimes legitimate businesses.

This episode was about those familiar calls or junk mail you get saying that you won the lottery, all you have to do is pay the taxes first to receive the money. Most people know this is a scam because you only pay taxes after you receive the money. The Jamaican scammers were preying on elderly people that were confused enough to fall for the scam. These elderly people were sending the scammers their life’s savings, in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. These kinds of stories sadden me because people are taking advantage of people that are losing their mental faculties and no one is protecting them.

But the shocking part of this story on American Greed was after the FBI got involved by targeting one particular scammer and reached out to several of the victims, some of them knew it was a scam. Several elderly people told the FBI that they knew the lottery wasn’t real but they kept sending the money because the scammers were so nice to them on the phone and they were the only people that took enough interest in their life to constantly talk to them on a regular basis.

How lonely do you have to be that you would let people take your hard earned money just to have them call you and be nice to you on the phone? When I started this blog, my first post was about how loneliness has become an epidemic and how loneliness hurts a person’s mental health but I didn’t understand the gravity of the situation until I saw this show.

Please read my first post about the Just Say Hello Campaign to help people that may be suffering from loneliness. If there’s an elderly person in your life that you haven’t talked to in a while please call or visit them. No one should be so lonely that they want to be scammed.