I take this quote from the book “The Law Of Attraction” by Esther and Jerry Hicks:
“The greatest gift that you could ever give another is the gift of your
expectation of their success.”
After I had quit Salem State College for the second time – on my way to earning my four-year Bachelor’s degree in a tidy seven years – I rolled back up to Salem from a period of alcohol and drug devotion on Cape Cod and ran into my friend Bob Hanson. He told me that the college had just initiated a new major in Social Welfare, that he had changed his study to that major, and that I – repeated quitter – should too. For me that meant moving first from General Studies. Then to English. Then to Education. And now to Social Welfare. I thought about it for five or six seconds and said, “Sure. Sounds like a great idea.” Such was the careful and extended degree of thought I gave to my career and life vocation choice.
When I finally got through that seven year period, in the late spring of 1974, I embarked – fumbling and hiccuping and bouncing all the way – on a 35-year career in human services. Serving humans.
I fell into my first human services position right out of college, a summer day camp gig for the House Of Seven Gables Settlement House in Salem, supplemented by evening work at their teen drop-in center. When the fall came I was offered a position working with teenagers in East Boston. Some of those kids had really bad attitudes and I didn’t last there long. Quit one night and didn’t come back. A few months later I was offered a position as an awake overnight counselor at a runaway house on the grounds of Danvers State Hospital. This is where I met Bob Zimmerman, who offered me the job, and I began a life-long friendship and main vein connection with him that only ended when he left us three years ago. Through him I met Dr. Doug Martin, and I have gushed about them both often here on this blog, in tales named “67Blondies” and “Hunter” and “Please Give the Keys To Florence” and “A Flagstaff Meeting” and “Old Pine Trail” and more. Doug’s gone too. They were two men who truly gave the gift of expecting success for and to others. Always. Their contributions to the planet grow, and glow, to this day.
Anyway, the runaway house closed when the funding ran out and I worked for the Tri-Town Council on Youth and Family Services north of Boston as a school outreach worker. Then after a pizza selling gig in Venice Beach, California – where I had followed Bob – back to Massachusetts and on the adolescent team at a psych hospital north of Boston. After six months there I took, in fact, a three-year leave of absence from the non-profit world to cover girls’ high school sports for a daily newspaper in Newburyport, MA – wrote under the name ‘Winston Cushman Jr’ – and became – gosh – wildly successful elevating the perception of personal success based as much on effort and devotion as natural talent to a large group of young women and their families. I did some of that same kind of writing for a paper in San Clemente, CA too. Then an alcohol and drug counselor back north of Boston. Then a counselor at The New England Home For Little Wanderers. Then down south to serving humans as a juvenile delinquency officer in Deland, Florida, and a street worker in Daytona Beach, then back north as an Assistant Director at a residence for slightly crazy kids in Quincy, MA, then a Director for my longest-running job ever – a little under four years – at a residence for barely crazy young adults just outside Boston. Then off to run a residential program for court-referred kids in San Francisco, then running a permanent housing program for HIV positive, AIDS infected men and women in Provincetown, MA, then a respite foster care program in Portland, Oregon, followed by an administrator position for persistently and chronically mentally ill women in East Portland. And from there, doo wop, art, writing, and Social Security.
My resume was, and is, a disaster, and at any interview if the first question didn’t relate to the number and frequency of positions held (and it usually did), there was clearly something wrong with the interviewer. Occasionally, now, I think about looking for another job – because I am a broke, struggling artist and, save for this blog, unpublished writer – and I chuckle to myself at the odds of being hired again. But you know what – any person crazy enough to offer me a job at their non-profit would find themselves looking back and thinking that the day they did – offer me a job – it was their lucky day. And the humans? The ones in line to be served? Well, they would be luckier still.
Because I tell you this. I have always, in all these years back to 1974, led in my interactions and relationships with people – the people I was there to serve, my co-workers, and later, the people I was privileged to supervise – with the thought behind the quote up above: I give you the gift of my expectation of your success.
No maybes. No hopefullys. No if your luckys. I always knew, and it always showed, it was always crystal clear, that someone’s life could get better – their life would get better, feel better, hold more and more promise for a better tomorrow – if we both worked at it. If we both suited up and showed up.
I just happened to show up at a ridiculous number of places. But that is the gift I always brought: expecting success for someone else.