About a month ago, I was doing the grocery shopping with my wife when we bumped into a woman we knew from our days living in another town about 20 years previous. It was a really nice chance reunion. Our common bond back in those days was our two daughters playing softball on a team I coached and so naturally the conversation quickly turned to how each was doing.
My wife and I spoke with pride about our own daughter who is now married, employed full-time in a marketing position with Moosehead breweries and overall doing very well. Then we learned that her daughter had graduated from University with a Master’s degree but being unable to locate full-time employment had recently relocated back home from another city to get things stabilized and seek out a job because she wasn’t having much luck. Can you see where this is going?
“Kelly helps people find employment and he’s very good at it”, chirped in my wife before I had the chance to say anything. In the next few moments I had pulled out a business card from my wallet, wrote my home number on it for her and extended the invitation for her daughter to contact me and set up a meeting if she’d like. Parents are always looking for ways to help their children along no matter what their age, and she gratefully accepted the offer of help.
As it turns out, I’m pretty busy at the moment. At work, we are launching a brand new computer program in a week which means in addition to our normal jobs, we are immersed in intensive training. In my personal life, I’m acting in the musical Beauty and the Beast which hits the stage November 7th; also in a week. So the timing is pretty tight to have much time in my personal life when there are the regular household chores to do and find some time for relaxing which is more important in this line of work than you might think otherwise.
So I’ve made the offer to give this young woman three hours of my time on Saturday afternoon. It will take some time to catch up with her and then turn our attention to launching her career, identifying barriers, making thoughtful suggestions and helping her move forward. And I’ve already told her that subsequent meetings are possible and it will be up to her to decide if she’d benefit from those.
And here’s a second situation that I want to share with you. That musical I’m in? There is a woman in the cast who I was listening to just this week as she spoke about what she did outside the theatre. “I’m just a mom”, she said. “Just a mom? Never say the word, ‘just’ as if you have something to apologize for”, I responded. Turns out she had a career in another part of the country that she gave up when she relocated to this area with her husband and has been raising several children for a decade.
Now in this situation I made mention of what I do and said, “I’m an Employment Counsellor and who knows, maybe I can help you out when you’re ready.” Then I handed her a business card from my wallet. Will she call at some point? No idea. But maybe; just maybe.
I share both of these situations with you because the common thread running between them is extending an offer to provide help. The relationship I have with the mother of the woman looking for help this Saturday goes back 21 years. 21 years; think on that. Can you guess today who you will be, who you will know, what your priorities will be, or what life will deal you 21 years from now? I know I can’t and I suspect your best guess is nothing more than that…a guess.
Likewise with my fellow thespian in this musical, (thespian = actor) may not contact me for years if at all, but the opportunity is now there and the offer to help has been made.
Don’t misread this piece to be a, “gee what a wonderful guy am I, and I want you all to know it” article. You’d be missing the point entirely. Other people have helped me out in the past and life has put me in a place where I have the skills and abilities to help other people. I suspect you have opportunities that present themselves in your own life, and it’s whether or not we recognize them and take advantage of them that’s significant.
And it’s not just with things that our work involves. Why in the theatre I remember other more seasoned actors who would offer me suggestions and tips to get the most out of the experience. Now at 55, I’m one of those people who have been in numerous musicals and dramatic productions, and so now I’m pulling others aside and asking if they’d be receptive to a few suggestions. The benefit of doing this is really building relationships, and if you build positive relationships with others in many different parts of your life, you never know when or with whom those relationships will be helpful.
So do reach out to other people. Find the new person in the office and welcome them, and show them the ropes. Reach out to colleagues in social media too. Do more than just connect.