The Homeless Man With No Name Who Taught Me Leadership

homeless manI once saw a man in San Pedro, California pushing a shopping cart full of “this and that.” Things no rational person would want. I looked at him with disdain as I climbed from my Cadillac. He was unshaven, clothes tattered. The streets were littered with them.

I edged closer as he spoke with two police officers. Surely he was begging for money rather than work for a living. He began to spray, polish, shine their police cruiser until the car sparkled. When they prepared to pay him, this man resisted until he had inspected his work …. again. The officers stood there quietly as he walked behind one corner of the cruiser and then the next.

I could then see he wasn’t homeless at all. This was his office on wheels. His cart was filled with aerosols, clean towels and cleansers. Oh he very well may have also lived out of his cart somewhere. However, I could see a man once down on his luck working his way out of the mire.

I watched him clean cars and then stand back to inspect his work until the customer agreed he was excellent. When I discovered he wasn’t “homeless” but a business man who had created a niche I was ashamed to have judged this man from my precipice.

What I didn’t realize at that moment was that in a short period my whole life would be decimated leading me to live in my car. Change. It is the universal element molding us to choose forward or failure with a purpose. Read more of my story from homelessness. Jim  Please share below with someone who could use encouragement. 

Hire Jim Woods, speakers, leadership, consultant, hr, innovationJim is president of InnoThink Group and Leadership Matters.  He is a leader in workplace learning, productivity, performance, and leadership training solutions. For over 25 years, we have helped companies improve their performance, productivity, and bottom-line results.

Contact us See a partial list of Jim’s clients. Click here to Hire Jim Woods to Speak  | Follow us: Facebook | Follow us: Twitter | Skype ID – jim.woods79



Jim Woods is president of The Jim Woods Group. A management consulting firm. Go here to see his work He advises and speaks to organizations large and small on how to increase top line growth in times of uncertainty and complexity. Some of his speaking and consulting clients include: U.S. Army, MITRE Corporation, Pitney Bowes, Whirlpool, and 3M. See more at his website

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Posted in Authentic Leadership, Change
One comment on “The Homeless Man With No Name Who Taught Me Leadership
  1. […] as he walked behind one corner of the cruiser and then the next. Read what transpired next at my other blog. In the meantime Leo Babauta has added insights you can also […]


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