Walk In Their Shoes
When I was given this assignment, I was dreading having to read a book in just over a week. I knew that it was not going to get accomplished unless I actually picked a book that I had a pure connection with. I explained my reading dilemma to my roommates, and one of them had a book they had previously read. The book’s title is Walk in Their Shoes, by Jim Ziolkowski and James S. Hirch, and published in the year of 2013. She explained that the book was written by her friend’s father who is the founder of a non-profit organization called BuildOn, Jim Ziolkowski. The book, Walk in Their Shoes, is about the story of a unique non-profit organization’s stimulating work with at-risk teens, the change they made on developing country’s communities, and how Jim Ziolkowski’s faith and strive allowed the organization to have the success that it did.
As my roommate handed me the book, she said to me, “This is going to drastically change the way you look at life”. At that moment, many questions started trickling into my eager mind. I wondered if this reading would change what I wanted to do in life or would it make me more confident in my decision to major in Integrative Public Relations? Would I gain enough information on developing countries to have a knowledgeable discussion with someone from a country that was helped by BuildOn? Or would I be truly inspired like she said, and my passion for helping others would grow so substantially that it would give me an idea to start my own non-profit? All it takes for someone to gain the confidence to make a difference in this world is a leader who wants to light a fire in everyone; and that is what I hoped Mr. Ziolkowski was going to do; light a fire in my soul.
The author of this book is truly an inspiring man. When he was twenty-five years of age he gave up his career in the financial management program at GE Capital to create his own non-profit. His work was related to remote areas of the world and America’s toughest cities. His organization can go into a community or village and create schools or make students want to volunteer, which is truly an example of how strong his faith is. When his organization first started out, he believed that as long as he has a hard working board and faithful volunteers, the needed income would appear, and people would believe in the process. He even felt so passionate about it that he had multiple near-death experiences in order to create a successful organization.
Walk in Their Shoes is a book that allows readers to really learn and takeaway many important life lessons from reading. One of these lessons is the concept of faithfulness. Jim Ziolkowski has to stay faithful to the villages across the world once it is decided that BuildOn will be coming to build them a school. If Jim and his team came to these developing countries and started building a school, but did not complete the project, the whole village would lose faith in humanity and the school would not be completed. The villages the BuildOn team go into do not not have the knowledge or the resources to do so themselves, which is why it is so critical that Jim and his coworkers make sure that every project that is started gets finished. Also, because everyone involved in this organization is required to do some traveling during the year, it shows how important it is to stay true to your morals and beliefs, and to know what priorities are more important than others. To Mr. Ziolkowski, the day he married his wife was the day she became as important as God. Then, once they brought their two sons into the world, all three of them were just as important to him as his relationship with the Lord. Jim shows that when you have to make a decision in life, you have to stay faithful to your beliefs and loved ones in order to do the right thing.
Another concept I learned was perseverance. Ziolkowski explained how in life there are going to be many trials that will either make or break a person. If you have your heart set on something, you go for it. Jim knew that to create a successful non-profit it was not going to be easy. He had to get donors to believe in him, volunteers to believe in BuildOn’s mission, and to get the schools being created to actually last. In all stages of these processes it was important for everyone on board to endure the hardships. Whether it be having to carry fifty pound cement bags for hours to get to a location to build a school, dig dirt in extremely high temperatures, or having to figure out a way to afford travel expenses for the organization; each one of these events involve persistency, and when that is done, good outcomes will occur.
Jim Ziolkowski believes in what he does because he knows that he was put on this earth to help people. Through his experiences that he describes in the book, I learned one last main concept; believing in achievement. If you cannot see yourself succeeding in something, it will become extremely hard to make a dream a reality. Jim and his partner James Hirsch had a rough start when they could not receive enough money for the expenses of the schools they were trying to build. However, they knew they could not give up. They threw a gala to raise money and over 500 people showed up to show their support. Now the gala has increased in size every year since. These two men could have just ended it and not given fundraising another try, but they did because they knew the importance of an education in the countries they were doing their work in. The author’s method in life which leads to these concepts is him staying true to his Christian faith, and living his life to create a better life for others that are truly in need.
Application to Student Leaders
The three concepts that I just explained from within the book will absolutely prepare me to be an effective Central Michigan University leader. Being a leader on campus who is faithful, perseveres, and believes in success creates a well-rounded student who is set up to accomplish great things. A leader who understands the importance of never giving up, is what it takes to make a difference on Central Michigan University’s campus. As a leader, I understand that I need to take other peoples’ advice and knowledge in order to help myself grow as an individual. This book taught me that it is never wrong to ask others for assistance, and that more helping hands is always better than one. I now realize that our campus can grow if the current leaders reach out to other individuals and give them the knowledge it takes to lead as well. As a student living on this college campus, I will now make the initiative to teach others how to help people in need and create an atmosphere of positivity.
After reading this book, I will most definitely be recommending it to my peers. Walk in Their Shoes consisted of many different stories that all played a part in the history of Mr. Ziolkowskis’ life as well as the history of his non-profit. Each specific story included how a bad situation was switched into a positive situation by someone believing in someone else, which created the feeling of power. This power within the mind allows a person to feel as though they can accomplish anything they put their mind to as long as they work for it, and truly believe in what they are doing. Anyone who reads this book will feel inspired in so many ways, but most importantly, will feel inspired to make a difference in this world.
In life, many unexpected things occur. This is a large lesson that this reading taught me. So far, every day that I have lived, I have been blessed enough to wake up and have the potential to positively influence other individuals. Before reading this book, however, I did not realize how precious each day really was though. Now that I have read this book, I will approach each day with taking the opportunity to positively influence someone and actually make it happen. Life is just too precious to take it for g