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In the Business of Helping

I was recently in a busy airport, returning home from facilitating a communication workshop.  Tired, but feeling fulfilled.  I was reflecting on the people in the workshop, remembering how their facial expressions transformed from confusion to dawning understanding.  We had spent the last couple of days stepping through their teamwork issues, identifying barriers and debating solutions. 


I live for that moment when the lightbulbs go on.  I got to watch the magic unfold as the team realized the behaviors that were holding them back, and then blasted apart their blockers and catapulted forward, truly together for the first time in years.


Helping people come together fills my cup.


Busy with my thoughts, I stood in line waiting to board.  The businesswoman in front of me wrapped up a heated call and plunged her phone into her bag.  She looked over at my suitcase, with my business card doubling as a luggage tag.  After eyeing the distinctive Starpath logo for a few seconds, she turned and asked, “what do you do for work?”


I took a breath, wondering if she was truly curious or just being idly polite.


“I’m in the business of helping people.”


She blinked.  She was quiet for so long, I thought she had lost interest.  Eyes narrowed, she finally replied, “And how do you help people?” 


My internal alert system kicked on.  I simply didn’t have the energy for a conversation where I felt on the defense.  However, maybe she was having a rough day and I wanted to give her the benefit of the doubt.  I made a half-hearted attempt at expanding, knowing she probably didn’t really care to hear more, “I give people resources to make communication easier...”     


Snort.  “People PAY you for that?!”


“Well, yes, actually.” 


I didn’t dare tell her they also pay me to help with team building and workplace culture, for fear that she might snort herself inside-out. 


Another long pause as her mind sifted through different options before settling on a response.  “Oh, honey, that’s so sweet of you!”.  Her voice actually squeaked.  She fished out her phone, turned her back, and I was dismissed.


I shrugged.


I highly value authenticity.  As I get older (and hopefully gain more wisdom), my tolerance for arrogance drops.  I am learning to not take these kinds of interactions so personally, which has been challenging for me.  


For those who are truly interested, I will summon the energy and make the time.  For those who want to prove they are somehow superior, I’m realizing that I don’t need to convince, to persuade, to justify.  I’m better off focusing my efforts where they have a positive impact.


We all have gifts to offer.  Each of us has a purpose, something we were put on this earth to do.  I believe mine is to help others step back, gain perspective, and communicate in better ways.


I strive to make a difference in people’s lives, and my work is a reflection of my heart.


Not everyone understands my journey, and that’s okay. 

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