One of my coaching clients shared a story with me that I found deeply moving.
It was also instructive.
This client runs a company that is just scaling. It has the potential to launch an industry that does not exist yet. Think Fred Smith in 1971. He built Federal Express into a highly successful business. And, in doing so, he also created the overnight delivery business.
One part of the service my client offers is to place and manage trained domestic help with his clients. He tries to ensure that there is an emotional ‘match’ as well as meeting skills requirements.
One of his clients, let’s call her Usha, was a single, high-achieving finance executive. She was in a high-pressure job and had a rocky relationship with her boss who sometimes demeaned her work. During the intake interview she spoke about the time she lived with her mother and how she felt loved and well taken care of.
In his roster was a cook/housekeeper – let’s call her Anjali – who, in her intake interview, said what gave her the greatest pleasure was seeing family members happily full after enjoying a meal that she cooked for them.
He paired the two of them.
It did not go well. Anjali was not the quickest learner and got stuff wrong. Usha had a temper and not much patience. She did not like too much chili in her food and said so vigorously.
One evening Usha came home stressed and quivering after a showdown with her boss. She sat for dinner and the food was too spicy.
She lost it.
She screamed at Anjali asking what it would take to get it into her dumb head to use less chili powder in the curry. Anjali started crying silently and this set her off even more. Why the heck couldn’t she simply take feedback and improve rather than putting on a waterworks display?
She pushed the food away and stormed off to her bedroom.
The next day when Usha finished her morning routine and went to the kitchen, Anjali was preparing breakfast and still crying. “Why are you still crying?” Usha asked with some asperity.
Between sobs, Anjali told her. “I could see that you had a difficult day at work, and I so wanted to take care of you. Because of my mistake you went to bed hungry and have still not eaten. I am so, so sorry.”
Something broke inside Usha and her tears came pouring out. They held hands. They sat on the floor. They cried together.
The once awkward pairing became a rip-roaring success.
It is a moving tale, isn’t it?
There are many lessons in it and I will highlight just one.
When it is your intent, your pure intent, to be of service and you don’t let your ego interfere and stir up trouble, magic happens.
Think about it. Try it.