I was speaking to an associate this morning whom I will call John. John had an interesting story to relate that I present here as food for thought, although I will sanitize some of the identifying content.
John is someone I would call an unlimited giver. When someone needs help, John is always quick to sign up. When business associates need assistance within their organization, John often steps in and helps the organizations with whatever help they need (often for free). When friends or family have issues, John is always in the middle, encouraging calm and focus on finding a solution.
John lives the perfect world.
So I thought.
John had a different side of his life that he relayed to me today. He was feeling heavily squeezed on all sides of his life and having kept it a secret for so long, allowed his story to explode in a torrent of feelings when I asked the simple question "How's it going today?".
John lives a pretty fast paced life (when I as an ultra type A personality can identify someone else has being fast paced, it must REALLY be fast paced).
Everyone goes to John for everything but the one observation that appeared to be creating angst for him today is this.
Nobody asks John what they can do for him.
So while John juggles a family with multiple kids, multiple clients and a number of personal and professional acquaintances, giving the whole way, he finally decided that the world appeared to want, want, want and not be interested in giving back. He has gotten tired of people making mistakes that cost him personally or professionally while providing no apology, yet the same people expect perfect results from him, being disappointed in him when he doesn't meet their expectations.
He says he gets requests on a regular basis from people who ask him things along the lines of "when are you going to do this so that you can get me a job doing whatever" or people who constantly take from his network while offering nothing from their own.
He told me that today, work, personal and other pressures seemed insurmountable and that he saw no reason why he should continue. Ordinarily this comment would have been something I could have dismissed as the voice of frustration but today it sounded different and we explored together, the importance of perseverance, courage, support, love and the beauty of life.
He thanked me deeply and as we said our goodbyes, indicated that he was headed for a local "place of power", a place where he likes to go to think through challenging things. I wonder what he will come up with.
I don't know about you, but speaking with John today got me thinking about relationship balance, the notion of giving at least as much as we receive (or giving more if we are able).
Speaking to someone who lives what many believe to be the perfect life and discovering that the perfect life is filled with what is perceived to be loneliness, lack of life satisfaction or "being used" in a series of one-way personal or professional relationships has caused me to review other relationships I have. Perhaps some of those ultimate givers need a few gifts in return, to allow them to recharge, to let them know that others value and respect them and to encourage them to continue the wonderful giving that they feel compelled to do.
Now if you will excuse me, I have some giving to do. It's the least that I can do.
How about you?
Yours in service and servanthood.