Do you ever think you are having the worst day ever when everyone else is laughing and living the dream?
Do you ever feel lonely when you are worried about money, relationships, prospects or keeping the roof over your head when everyone else seems to be riding the post recession imaginary boom?
Do you ever think your pain is blatantly obvious to anyone who sees you?
Over the summer I have had the chance to reconnect with many people I have not seen for a long time due to unforeseen circumstances and events both happy and sad. Many conversations focused on what we were all doing now and what we had done for the last ten years. To be honest, I was shocked. Several times.
Like any self employed person the Celtic Tiger took a large bite out of my arse and for a couple of years I really struggled with cash flow and getting consistent work in to keep me in food, tights, petrol and the bane of any work from home entrepreneur, ink for the printer! 🙂 Of course I assumed that I was not managing money properly, not advertising enough and not networking (my absolute pet hate) enough.
And everyone else seemed to be ticking along fine. And some were.
Others, however, were juggling just as many balls as me, and with as much if not more worries about cash flow. Others were less affected.
But here’s the thing.
Everyone was affected.
Particularly self employed people.
Apart from the fact that we all survived and many are actually diversifying, some are thriving and some are starting over with a renewed wisdom and quiet determination, I was constantly reminded of a theory I thoroughly disliked when it was given to me more than 15 years ago by a life coach I was working with around money.
When I rocked up for my weekly session and gave him my list of bills/debts/outstanding fees he said in his french accent (he was French 🙂 ) “Anne McDonald, you are not so special, the whole world has bills, you just think yours are more important than anyone else’s!”
I hated him for two reasons. One, my bills were occupying my every waking minute and much of my sleepless nights, and Two, I DID think my bills were more important….they were wrecking my head all the time at the time!
When we all got to chatting about how tough the recession/boom/bust/property collapse/negative equity scenarios were to try to stay in business, I realised that a lot of people I know dealt with much tougher stuff than me, and with infinite more grace than I!
Just because they put their work face and suit on and got on with things did not mean they weren’t struggling.
Because they continued to work and try to bridge the gap between property values and mortgage repayments and provide and excellent service to their clients and customers did not mean that they too, worried themselves to sleep at night.
The fact that many of these people continue to work with the same clients now is testimony to the excellent service or products they provided during the shitty period.
It made me realise that you really never know what people are going through or what issues they are dealing with. It made me realise how important it is to ask “how are you?” Or as Joey Tribbiani would say “How You Doin?”
To ask genuinely how someone is gives both you and them an opportunity to stop for a minute and think about it. To acknowledge the struggles, the triumphs, the challenges, the new ideas not yet fully formed, the goals and dreams, ambitions and disappointments. Their well or not so well being.
It is three little words. It can make a HUGE difference to someone’s day.
The answer might be “fine!” which is international for “mind your own business, or I dont want to talk to you, or I am too miserable to even begin to tell you”.
But somebody might stop and answer. They might stop to tell you how they are. They might feel that someone outside of themselves is interested. They might love the fact that someone asked.
Did you ever meet someone who immediately tells you all about themselves and leaves you feeling like your ears have been blown off and they didn’t notice your left arm was in a sling and you had a black eye ? (we can all do this at times 🙂 )
This week, what about if you stopped to ask people “how are you?” and waited until they had a chance to tell you? (Howya meaning hello is not the same thing! )
What about asking “do you need any help with anything?”
What about asking “what’s happening in your corner of the world?” by email or text or twitter or facebook or any one of the many ways we have to communicate now rather than waiting to bump into someone on the street?
Someone, somewhere, will definitely be glad you did!!
This week, why not be a little bit Joey Tribbiani?? 🙂 🙂 🙂