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The world we live in: How small businesses (like yours) are going to save us all

You know what I love about you guys?

You’re the helpers.

What’s that, you say?

Remember what Fred Rogers (Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood) told us about his mom’s advice?

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping’.”

We live in a world where people find themselves sick, sad, stressed, and angry – and often they don’t even know why. Gee, let me think: Shrill media, addictive technologies, partisan politics, weather disasters courtesy of a changing climate, toxins in our air/water/food, escalating violence and divisiveness, religious extremism…I wonder why we’re sick?

It is a tough row to hoe some days.

Yet this morning, when I looked across the list of people I’ll work with in the coming week, I saw this (you know who you are – and thank you):

  • A coach who helps people navigate, survive, and thrive through the stress of life’s transitions
  • A counselor who helps people find the key to a healthy, vibrant, empowered life
  • An investment fund focused on economic justice, helping those most injured or abandoned by our current system to find dignity and stability
  • An accountant and tax specialist who works with small, family-owned businesses to translate the benefits, risks, and rules of our largely indecipherable tax system
  • A nonprofit whose mission statement is, “No one should have to face cancer alone.”
  • A magnificent, loving healer who helps smooth out the stresses of the world that have settled in our bodies and our energy
  • You, perhaps. Helping in your own way, through imparting wisdom, beauty, comfort, clarity, and support.

Whenever someone approaches me who hopes to work with us, I set up a consultation by video or phone to ask a gentle series of questions. To the untrained ear, it may sound like I’m asking about the nut and bolts of their business, about clients, about services. But from the thousand-foot view, a pattern emerges:

I want to know if they are a helper.

I want to know whether their motivation for doing what they do is something larger than “get rich quick.”

I want to know if their hearts are in the right place.

Do you know what I’ve found, in 99% of the cases? The answers are yes, yes, and yes. It’s surprising, because it’s absolutely not what we read on the news or see on television. Even a cursory glance at characters littering our TV channels over the course of an evening would have us think that homo sapiens are essentially self-centered, materialistic, unfaithful, conniving buffoons (there’s a reason the “spiritual epiphany” story is so popular in modern films and books). Ground into our minds is the anti-mantra, we’re in this alone, and we’d better look out for number one, because no one else is going to save us.

And yet here’s me: Mid-fifties, survivor of violence, no stranger to addictions or to dire financial straits, having not lived a charmed life—and yet crowding all around me is so much good. So many people who are trying to make something better in the world.

That’s why I love you guys.

You are living proof that the media has people all wrong. You make your living by doing good. Bad things happen, but they are dwarfed by the sheer goodness of millions of daily—and largely unnoticed—individual actions. You’re part of a community of helpers, proof positive of the basic goodness in humanity. You create good news. You are the good news.

Thanks.  Keep it comin’.  And if you need a cheerleader, a coach, or a sherpa to help you reach more people, help more people, you know where to find me. Drop me a note and let me know how I can help.

 

 

 

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