Applying Lessons From 'The Soloist' to Your Own Life

The executive director of Tailored for Success talks about how themes in "The Soloist" apply in her charity and volunteer work.

You might be wondering why, as Executive Director of Tailored For Success, I got involved with the Malden Reads: One Book, One City project.

Tailored For Success empowers women with career skill training and free business attire as they attempt to enter the workforce. In addition, we promote to our clients the philosophy that the best way to be successful in your chosen career is to become a lifelong learner. More importantly, readers are earners.

By encouraging adults (and kids) to read as part of a community-wide effort, I feel the Malden Reads: One City, One Book project fits right in with the philosophy of Tailored For Success. Therefore, I’m a proud member of the Malden Reads committee and hope to offer a discussion group surrounding the book “The Soloist” sometime during the year.


The power of helping others

“The Soloist” is based on the true-life account of a newspaper reporter, Steve Lopez, who befriends a homeless man, Nathaniel Ayers. Mr. Lopez and Ayers form an incredible bond and both are changed by their relationship.

I myself had a similar experience with a client who, although she was not homeless, was a single mother of three girls and looking at a bleak future.  When we first met, we didn’t realize how much we had in common.

I’m proud to say that as our friendship grew, she returned to school to finish her MBA, which was a goal she never thought she could complete. So, as I read “The Soloist,” I thought it illustrated how important it is not to give up on your dream and that everyone deserves a second chance.


second chances and redemption

Giving someone a second chance is a powerful concept. In my work at Tailored for Success, I have had the occasion to work with many homeless or formerly homeless individuals. They are among some of my favorite clients for many different reasons. They have seen a side of life many of us will (hopefully) never know and have found a way back.

They appreciate the smallest thing done for or given to them—imagine someone shedding tears of joy because you gave them a shirt or suit that someone donated to Tailored For Success to clear up clutter in their closet. Just like the clothes that are donated, we have a second chance to change someone’s life.


Appreciating music

Another prevailing theme of “The Soloist” is the redemptive power of music. Music, to me, is a wonderful part of what it means to be a human. We can express ourselves through art, the spoken word or actions but to me music transcends. It takes you to places you’ve never known, can instantly change a mood or in my case, helps you to think.

I’ve always written better articles, proposals, business letters and the like when classical music was playing in the background. No words are necessary for me just hearing the soothing melodic sounds can stimulate creativity and thankfully release the dreaded “writers block”.

Recently, I had occasion to visit the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston where my husband and I took in the new Art of the America’s wing. Although I went thinking I would see a lot of contemporary art, I was delighted to see that one of the first exhibits was the music room. There they had several exhibits of old pianos, banjos, flutes, violins and cellos.

This chance trip to the museum reminded me of “The Soloist” as I looked at the cellos and violins I tried to imagine Nathaniel Ayers playing the instruments with his eyes closes and completely consumed with his music. 

There are so many reasons to read and enjoy music. Thank you, Malden Reads, for giving me the opportunity to know the story of Nathaniel Ayers through “The Soloist.”  I am looking forward to all of the events and discussions planned to explore this story in more detail.

For more information on Malden Reads please visit the website at www.maldenreads.org, or find them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter. 

Elizabeth Hart is the Founder and Executive Director of Tailored for Success (www.tailoredforsuccess.org), located in Malden, MA.


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