Tuesday, April 22, 2014

If they don’t want to…

Saturday can be a little more of a wait coming back from Walmart. At the sheltered bus stop, I sat down in between two men. It was a conversation between one person trying to help another.  As I was in between this, I figured out the one slept behind the buildings across the street and the other was trying to get him in a shelter. The helper called someone and left a message that he knew someone needing a place to sleep that night. 

What was different was the person needing a place to stay was reluctant to respond to an offer of help. The helper offered to get on the bus with him and take him to the place he knew would give him a bed and shelter. He continued to be non-responsive to his offer in any way… neither accepting or denying the offer. Do you have money for the bus the helper asked. No response. He just mumbled something. By now I was becoming, inadvertently, part of this.

The helper guy offered to give him money for the bus fare. Still no response. Here comes the bus “so ride with me,” he insisted. Being caught up in this conversation, I gave him a dollar and the other guy a quarter.  Then I told him exactly what he needed to do to get to the location. He needed a transfer to get there, so I gave him another quarter (a transfer is a dime more, but it was the only change I had). He just didn’t want any help. 

As the bus showed up, the helper guy asked him again to get on the bus with him. He didn’t budge. Walking to the bus he asked one more time. Still no response. The helper guy and I boarded Line 2 bus and the guy needing help stayed behind.

Then we went off as the guy sat there. Not really knowing why. Maybe it was how the helper guy was going about it (which could be another story).

In most instances someone willingly accepts a little help from unknown friends, but this person just seemed totally depressed. I know that because I was depressed at one time, and maybe I still am to some degree. It was like I was frozen. I couldn’t move or anything. I had a hard time walking to a bus stop let alone getting on.

How can we help?

First is understanding what is going on and then realizing someone must want our help. If help is not wanted, there is not much to do.

A large part of our culture probably is depressed and can’t get out of their stupor. That’s the greatest challenge. All we do won’t work unless we figure this first part out. When hope is totally diminished, we just can’t use intravenous methods to get hope into a person. Then, for whatever reason, someone must want it.

The hardest code to crack is the “no hope” code. Our human person without hope just doesn’t function. And then to be able to accept help graciously (for me the hardest part).

I am still puzzled. Some people on the street may stop you to ask for money for the bus. But for this guy to just refuse, in his quiet non-receptive way, was unusual. He had to be depressed. And that is the biggest puzzle. How to get out of it?  If you don’t wanna… it won’t happen.

All who pray and believe they have already received what they ask for, will receive what they ask for, Jesus said.

If we could turn our thoughts around to "we can have it better," then it can become better. Even if just a little bit at a time. And then we need to accept help when offered to restart our engines and accept help from our friends, even if we don’t know they are our friends yet.

Lesson learned:  We gotta wanna… and we must be willing to say yes, and thank you.

(In the Way of the Seal, we see a completely different person.  A person wanting to excel above average which is how the Navy Seals perform.)

Thursday, April 17, 2014

What was his song?

While sitting at the terminal,  I saw this dude with some interesting attire. He wore a cowboy hat, pulled down to the top of his eyebrows. Wore casual western type clothes and had ear plugs in his ears. He walked out to look at the bus map in the middle foyer. His head bobbing slightly and rhythmically with what he evidently had plugged into his ears. As he walked outside down the terminal, his body rhythm seemed to be with the music he was listening to. I wondered. What is he listening to?  What does it mean to him? Why does he like the music he hears. But it was for his ears only.

The more I thought about it, it dawned on me that without hearing his song I don’t really know much about him. When we have a song, do we share it with others or do we keep it to ourselves.  We can’t really relate unless we hear the other person’s song. Those who share it have more who know them and may join them in being part of their song. Those with a song who keep it to themselves, keep others out of their rhythm of life. We may never really know them and know what to sing to be in harmony with them.

We each have a song. The more we share it, the more others may be singing in harmony with us. What if we all live in the joy of celebrating the other person's song with them and we share the melody of our song with others. We each sing a song. What would the melody of life be if we shared our song? And, we learned how to sing along with each other's song?

Haven’t seen this mystical cowboy again. Or was he a cowboy as I judged him by how he looked to me. I will never know for sure as long as I haven’t had a chance to hear his song.

“Sing, sing a song, sing out loud, sing out strong...Don’t worry that it’s not good enough for anyone else to hear, just sing, sing a song.”(Carpenters) And those around you may be singing the song with you.

Another lesson of life I learned while riding the bus: if we knew each other’s song, we’ll probably see more of us getting along.

“He gives me a new song to sing.” (Psalm 40:3)

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Being there can be the difference

As I was boarding the Line 2 bus, I ran into Todd getting on.  He told me he was ready to start mowing soon. He had 90 clients to start the year which was a good start to keep him busy. He also said he was on the wagon, meaning he was still keeping away from drinking too much. (Off the wagon is when a person stays on a drinking binge.) Todd told me that if he had a couple beers he would be off to drinking a dozen.

We chatted for a while on the bus and he was telling me how things are going. This was good to hear. It was good to hear him talk so openly and freely about keeping his life on the wagon.
Well, we all got something to work on.  We benefit by having someone who cares about our victories and supports us in our struggles… someone we can celebrate our victories with, and be encouraged by someone who understands. 

As I got off he made a point to give me a huge wave as I walked away. If I were not on the bus I wouldn’t have these times to share and be there with others. I could tell it was an encouragement for Todd to see me. He valued having a time to chat. And I am sure others overheard our conversation, and it was possibly an encouragement to others around us to hear Todd share. 

Positive stories shared on the bus can be like a mini-mobile-motivational seminar. You don’t have to strain too hard to hear conversations.  Once I had a friend suggest we ride the bus together and share our dreams while riding, that maybe it could inspire others to dream too. 

It is important to be where people are who need us. So many relationships can be made while riding and waiting for the bus. It’s there many can make a difference by just being there, and celebrate with those who are making the effort to do good through their lives. It’s amazing that a positive person’s persona, disposition, can affect people around them without using words. 

“Rejoice with those who rejoice,” the Apostle Paul said. To have people who share in what we do and have mini-celebrations together is a blessing in life. 

 Public transit is a great place to be among a varied cross-section of people. Just being there can be the difference.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Transit Transformed … Community of One and the Entrepreneur

Grabbed 2 downtown, then hopped on 5 to the Hammons Tower. Took care of some business quickly and came out to catch the other 5 coming back to downtown. While sitting there on the bus bench enjoying the beautiful spring-like day, the thoughts of how people get money to do things was going through my mind. I wondered how many business dollars are generated alone through this big, tall, black business tower behind me. 

Dollars are harder to get these days and Transit is fighting for the available dollars too. All across the country I hear it is getting more competitive to get the same Federal, State money being allocated to public transit(with less to go around). Having access to public transportation is viewed by many as equal to our right to free speech in America. But how can it be funded? 

While sitting there my mind went back to a conversation I had many years ago with one of the founders of Evangel University, Dr. J. Robert Ashcroft. He was asked to go to a college in the East to help them pay off a million dollar debt. This was probably 30-40 years ago. He took a year’s salary of one dollar. And in one year had them well on the way to having the debt paid off. I asked him how he did it. He said he got everyone working together as one team. He asked the faculty to eat lunch with the students, included the faculty to interact with the administration to solve problems, enlisted student insights, got outside suppliers involved, and created an atmosphere, and function, of one unit all working toward the same goal. 

Then I began creating parallels. What if that could be done in a city and everyone worked as a community of one for providing public transit?
What if the bus drivers with some business experience met to come up with new ideas of securing, or building revenue streams to fund the bus service. The Transit leadership/staff interact with this drivers’ think-tank group and kick around possibilities. 

Get the community involved in another think-tank, include bus passengers and non-bus passengers. Stir that in the mix. 

Add three of the areas accomplished entrepreneurs to be a think-tank group to come up with innovations for funding public transportation that could be a perpetual, self-generating system for new revenues, but still have low fares for the bus passenger. Combine the minds of entrepreneurs accustomed to working with 9-figure budgets to vision new ways to do things… ways relevant to our culture today and where it is going.
(Maybe they would work for a dollar a year each to see if they could come up with some funding innovations… innovations that would constantly generate revenue, make transportation available to all, and produce a classy, nationally-noticed, eye-catching transit system.) 

Use the entrepreneurs as the point men (persons... there are great women entrepreneurs as well) to bring all the concepts together. Homogenize all factors to one unit of thought in that the community, transit services became as one in mind, spirit, heart. 

Napoleon Hill, in researching entrepreneurs in the early 1900’s, said they found great success when all people involved in a situation worked in harmony, as one mind, with each other. Joint minds birthed a master-mind which produced outstanding invention to solve problems.
Jesus said we “will do greater things”… He was referring to His Disciples that as a unit they would surpass His accomplishments (as One in Spirit). 

As One we can believe for and expect Greater things. 

I boarded 5 heading downtown. On the way, I saw all the construction going on transforming some of the old office buildings into a new concept of downtown. We may be entering a season of greatness for all.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The Bus … benefits of thinking like an entrepreneur

As his friend got on the bus, this guy asked him if he had 50 cents. His friend said he didn’t, then he turned to me, sitting in the back, asked me if he could borrow 50 cents. I said not now. His friend nudged him to ask the lady in front of him across the aisle. She rummaged through some things and came up with a bag of pennies. What went through my mind is that he is going about this all wrong. He used the word, “borrow,” which implies he plans to pay you back, a time, a place. Well, I obviously didn’t see any of these conditions present, and not knowing him how in the world would I know I could count it being paid back as he suggested… a lack of trustworthiness. 

Consider this scenario, someone (let’s call him Todd) needed $20. As Todd walked down the street he saw a lawn mower for sale for $20. As he continued walking he saw several yards that needed mowed. Todd found a person who would pay him $20 for mowing his yard. He told the man that he needed to go buy this lawn mower on sale for $20 so he could mow the yard. He asked his prospective customer if he would advance him $20 so he could do this. The man hesitated. So Todd asked the man to go with him or he would leave him his jacket as collateral. The man agreed. He bought the mower and mowed the yard. The man liked the job and asked him to come back again. 

Then as he walked down the street with a lawn mower he found another yard needing mowed. He offered $20 to mow it. The lady said yes, but now he needed gas. He asked the lady to pay him $20 upfront so he could go buy gas. He offered to leave the mower there to protect her money advance. She agreed and he went and bought a gas can and gas. That day he mowed two more yards for $20 and made $40 profit while having his equipment paid for. He would buy another mower or two when he saw good deals along the street, so he would have a backup. 

Todd rides the bus when he’s not mowing and now makes up to $200 a day mowing yards at a competitive rate. 

Two people who ride the bus. One has an entitlement mind… ask with no guarantee of a  return. Another uses an entrepreneur’s approach… provide something of value for someone who investments in your service. 

The bus culture is a prime place to teach entrepreneurial skills… to learn how to use your skills, provide a product or service that someone else would see of value and pay for it. If this culture were taught this, we would have Todd’s of the world making a positive contribution to the world around them. It starts with a change of mindset, creating belief in one’s self, and showing how to make money while improving lifestyle for others and our self. We could change our culture for many on the bus and those around us if we learned how to apply the entrepreneurial way of thinking for getting what we need. 

Actually, as an entrepreneur friend of mine told me, we should make learning entrepreneurial skills a requirement in our education system.  It’s not only personal survival insurance, but a lifestyle fulfillment factor in our pursuit of happiness… our privilege of the free enterprise system in America. 

While on the bus that day I was thinking about this guy’s approach to get 50 cents. (I really didn’t want to reward a method I disagreed with.) I felt for the lady who gave her bag of pennies to this guy. As I got off the bus I passed by her. I reached in my pocket, pulled out my change. I spoke to her as I walked by and handed her my change, “God wants you to have this for your kindness.” I realized I had about 80 cents in change and a few pennies. She got paid back more for being kind. 

The lesson learned:  think like an entrepreneur; create something of value to someone who will pay you for it. And God rewards kindness. 

Also, here’s a book summary that teaches how to make money, when you need a few extra hundred(although the author suggests a thousand). It’s the Todd way of thinking… an entrepreneurial approach. Put More Cash in Your Pocket.
Feel free to pass it on. If we taught people “how,” the “have” would be more widespread.

Monday, February 17, 2014

People become what we think of them

People become what we think they are.

In the best-selling business book Business of Belief, the author shared a study where teachers were told they had a class of exceptional students coming into their class. These students were average, and the only difference was the teacher’s perception that they were exceptional. (Their performance records were modified to reflect this for the teacher.) What happened was the teacher treated the class very differently than if he/she had average students. The students then, overall, performed at much higher levels than they normally had in the past. The point was… based on what we perceive people as being, our actions to them can vary according to the perception we have of them.  People then tend to respond in the way we think they are

I wonder if every person who boarded the bus were treated as a unique, special person, of notoriety and accomplishment, could we change our culture by changing the way we think of them? If we applied this one phenomenon to the bus system, could the drivers be key influences in changing our communities?

There is something special in every person. When we believe it’s there, it shows up. “We are marvelously and wonderfully made.”(Psalm 139:14) For me I really strive, work to find, the wonder, marvelous workmanship inherent in each person I meet.

Lesson learned: What you think people are, they become.
What we believe eventually becomes our reality. 

Monday, February 3, 2014

A Bus Driver’s Ideas for Building Ridership

Larry Jones, city bus driver, wanted to be an airline pilot early in his life. Although he had a chance to drive a bus in New York City followed by back and forth stints of tour bus driving and city bus driving. He was hired twice by CU Transit. What brought him back to stay… the benefits are excellent and the management team is great he said. He works with some great people he emphasized.

“Where can you find a job that you sit in a nice seat and get to meet great people all day long.”

How does he make a difference? Smiling is important he said. When someone boards the bus and you welcome them with a smile that helps them start their day on a positive note. We all feel better when someone greets us with a smile. Also, he learns his passenger’s routines. In one case during an early morning run, a regular passenger fell asleep. He stopped at her stop, seeing she had fallen asleep, and told her we are here now.

When a passenger thanks him for the ride, that is always appreciated he said.

What would you like the passengers to know?  When someone has a suggestion, it would be better to go directly to CU Transit. The bus driver has a lot on his mind all day, and he may not be in the best position to passing it on. The Transit website has a comment page which Transit does check and a phone number for passenger inquiries.

Larry studied computer science when in college. Our conversation shifted to idea sharing on how the transit service could build its client base attracting the technology generation.

While on Route 8, the comfy chair and taking the hour loop around the north part of the city, seemed to get Larry’s idea juices flowing.  In the near future, CU Transit will be part of an app that will show all the routes on one’s smartphone. (I understand more on this will be coming. I didn’t know the details of what this is at this time.) Also, the buses may be having computer-based prompts to name key streets as they pass by which are tied into a GPS system.  He pointed out the bus routes are already tied into Google and on the website a person can get directions/connections(at a link called Map It) for a trip in the city.

To increase ridership, life skill classes at school on how to use the bus to get around town would help increase bus use Larry felt.  Bus drivers could come and share main components of how the bus system works. Have a similar class offered to the public through a community college as a community service.  A bus driver teaching the class would be able to answer specific questions.  

At elementary schools, have a bus day. (Larry indicated this was done in the past.) Take a bus to the school, have the kids ride it and a driver show the kids how everything works, and go over the rules of the bus. Parents could be invited too and they get a free pass to try the bus sometime, or maybe a couple times.

At the new terminal, videos could be shown on a screen to explain the ins and outs of the bus system, or put them on the website as well. The more a person knows before getting on a bus, the more likely they will be inclined to use it.

On the bus, enlist community volunteers to be a personal host for new riders to show them how it all works and answer questions. (Seems like I saw something like this on the CU Transit website, but not sure if I have seen it done.)

At the colleges, have a welcome to CU Transit day. The city has a healthy influx of international students who are more accustomed to using public transit. They could be given courtesy passes when they start their college semester to get them going on the city’s transit system.

Well, the loop around the north part of the city went pretty fast and it seemed Larry’s brain was just warming up as ideas continued to flow. When I got off the bus, I told Larry thank you. He smiled and said come back again and ride sometime.

The more we become familiar, the more we tend to use what we are familiar with. Educational  and information-sharing experiences can accomplish this.

Greet someone with a welcoming smile today.

“Be humble and teachable. Those who humble themselves are raised to higher positions.”