I like being there for my girls, my family, my friends and my clients. In fact, I AM there for my girls, my family, my friends and my clients. I am there so much that I take for granted that I will always be there for them all. I base my professional reputation on being there!
Being there, my parental role
When my kids were young, I stayed home to raise them. I was there to see all their firsts; the first smile, first tooth, first steps, etc. As my girls have gotten older, I have made sure that I am still there for them. From my “command center” (a.k.a. my desk) I am able to survey most the house and yard to see my girls. Most of the kids in the neighborhood come here to hang out because their parents know that I am there for them too.
This past week my girls were on vacation with their dad and his family. I received a phone call from daughter #2 informing me that she hit a milestone in teenage development, she got her first period. I was floored. What really got me was… I wasn’t there. I was on the other end of a phone line a couple of hundred miles away and had to rely on the female family members (my ex-in laws no less) she was traveling with to see her through this milestone moment. Note: To those of you who have boys, I have no idea what to compare this moment to, but for us girls, it’s a biggie.
After I hung up the phone, I sat and processed what had just transpired, trying to work my way through the anger and disappointment I was feeling. Finally, something struck me. I did prepare her for the event, we’ve spoken numerous times about what happens and why. I also made sure her sister, who is now a seasoned pro, was well equipped to talk about it should the need arise. So, while I was not physically there, I was in fact there in a very important way. This realization cemented in when my girls came home with hugs and kisses and a whopper of a thank you from my “not so little” girl for being there to talk to.
Being there is the cornerstone of customer service.
Earlier in the week, I attended funeral services to be there for a friend whose father passed away. While I was out of town, a client called and left a message that her email was not working. She called a second time pleading that the server be checked as the following day was the most important event in her career. I was not there for my client. When I got home at 11pm and listened to my messages, I took immediate action. Checked the server, checked her hosting account – saw no issues and breathing a sigh of relief, assumed the issue had somehow been resolved.
As I read through my emails, I saw one from her indicating that she enlisted the help of someone else to correct the problem and that she felt she no longer needed my services as she must have someone there for technical support in a crisis. Talk about getting kicked in the professional ego. Now I was really disappointed that I was not there for my client at all. I responded to her note, letting her know where I was and why – I haven’t heard from her since.
Once again taking the moment to process what just happened (I am getting good at that), I realized that while I may not have been there for my client in that one moment, I have been there for any and all other issues that she has had in the past. More importantly, while I may not have been there for my client, I was there for my friend. If I had to do it over again, I would not change a thing.
The reality of being there (or not)
I do pride myself on being there but learned that despite the fact that I always want to be there for the people in my life, sometimes circumstances don’t allow it. Instead of feeling guilty about a perceived failure, I forced myself to look at the good I have done in the past & in the moment. I also realized that the odds are pretty good that I will have a future opportunity to be there.