I have wanted to write this “story” for nearly a year now but what held me back was the fear that by writing it I would be deemed to blow my own trumpet! That feeling is still here to a certain extent and as I am writing this I am still undecided as to whether or not I should post it.
the point of the story has nothing to do with blowing my own trumpet but instead one of the most important lessons in my life. A lesson about helping another human being during a time where I could have so easily dismissed her as wasting my time.
In my job I generally have 2 – 5 clients coming to see me every day. Most of them I have never met before, some of them I know and some have become wonderful friends. This particular lady came to me hoping to reduce her payments on her mortgage as 18 months previously she had contracted cancer and as a result had no other option than to take some time off work while going through treatment. My first instinct was that I could probably reduce her payments by a meager £30 per month and I wanted to do better than that because I felt she deserved it (not sure at what point I appointed myself the judge of who deserves what!!)
It may be worth mentioning that my job unfortunately involves having a “sales target” (those 2 words put together always makes me cringe) and that the time spent with her would not get me any closer to it. However, a lesson I learned a long time ago, is that honesty and no bullshit is the only way to develop good relationships and since I learned that lesson I have lived by it.
Another factor (I think) was that I had just finished “Fish Philosophy” (See the post Choose You Attitude) which is why I chose to just “Be There”
Our first meeting lasted no more than 30 minutes or so and throughout I remained focused on finding some way of improving her situation. I decided to go through all her regular expenses. I felt that if I could only save her such a small amount each month on her mortgage there had to be another way of reducing her outgoings further. During this exercise we discovered that she had an insurance payment going out of her account, which had been active for a long time. She had no idea what it was for and had no paperwork with her. I told her to go home and dig out any kind of paperwork that could shed some light on it and then come back.
She did exactly that! She came back with the biggest carrier back full of all kinds of letters, contracts, financial statements etc and her comment was; “you’ll regret asking me to come back”. We spent (mostly me) a long time sorting through it all and actually ended up getting rid of the majority of it. However, amongst all of this the insurance policy emerged and it became apparent that it covered her for the cancer she had been diagnosed with. The only problem at that point was the fact that you generally have to claim within the first 12 months of diagnosis and at this point 18 moths had passed. Between us we decided that she had everything to gain and nothing to lose, although she straight away felt it would be a waste of time and I think she did not want to get her hopes up only to feel disappointed when (in her mind) they’d tell her she’d missed the deadline. I phoned the insurance company and explained what she’d been through.
In retrospect it appears that the Universe or God had arranged for people to be extremely helpful that day because the guy I spoke to was (and I am sure still is) wonderful. He kept it simple and arranged for a claim form to be sent out. We arranged to meet a week later as she felt it would be too overwhelming for her to fill it in on her own.
When we met the 3rd time it didn’t feel like a client visiting anymore but more like a friend visiting for a coffee and a chat. We filled in the claim form, sent it off with fingers crossed. She still did not believe it would happen and in all honesty I had my doubts too, but at this point something had happened in me. I was filled with a desire to fight for her to make sure it came through and this time it wasn’t to gain any kind of approval or a pat on the back for a job well done. All I wanted was for this to come through for her.
About a week after we sent of the claim form I went on holiday in Scotland for a week. When I came back to work and checked my diary I noticed she was scheduled to come in to see me. I figured that she’d had some more paperwork through that she wanted help with and didn’t give it another thought.
I was in for a little surprise when she came in. She looked at me and then gave me the biggest hug. Not only did they pay out enough to pay of her mortgage, she was left with £7,500 to spare. While I had been away she been out buying a computer, which she had always wanted but could never afford and was so excited telling me about going on google earth etc. It’s impossible to describe how I felt. I was so incredibly grateful that the Universe or whatever you want to call i came through for us.
She wrote the most wonderful letter to my boss and I did get a lot of recognition as a result. However the recognition was very short lived and it actually did not mean a lot to me.
My real reward was the day she came back and told me that it had paid out. My reward was the look on her face, the face of a person who I had only met 4 times in my life. Most of all, the reward was how I felt in myself for taking the time to give another person my full and undivided attention and knowing that I made a difference in her life!
I will never forget that part of my journey. It was one of the most fulfilling days of my life and to this day I think I helped myself more than I helped her!