Listen to your Inner Voice

Posted in Humanity, Life

iStock_000017923906_MediumSeveral months ago I received an email out of the blue from an individual I did not know with an unusual request, to say the least.

Like many of you, I often receive emails from individuals suggesting that my business and those areas that I am responsible for would be significantly improved if I would invest the time to connect with them; or at a very minimum direct them to those who they should be speaking to. This however, was not one of those emails.

The sender said that he was looking to apply for a job with an international firm of which I had done business. Through his Internet searches, he found my name associated with this company on a number of occasions and decided to reach out directly. The request was simple, “I noticed that you have had extensive dealings with the organization that I am seeking employment with and I wonder if you could spare an hour of your time to help me prepare for an interview that I expect to have with them?”
The writer’s tone was sincere and respectful and there was something about his note that I could not simply brush off or ignore. After all, there had been some thoughtful time spent in scouting me out and by this I was impressed.

I agreed to meet him for a coffee near my office and truly had no idea what to expect. A young well-dressed professional arrived at the appointed hour. He was polite, engaging and very interesting to talk to. He shared his story of leaving his native country to come to Canada where he felt his wife and two young sons would have a chance for a better quality of life. Unfortunately as can happen with many talented immigrants, his skills had not been recognized and he was in the process of rebuilding his network and credibility to once again attain the type of position he once held in his native country. He did not seem daunted by this task which he had been pursing since his arrival 4 years earlier. In contrast he seemed to consider it simply “the price of admission” in the country where he hoped to make his new home. We enjoyed a wonderful dialogue and I was impressed by his grasp of business in general but more so by his humility and desire to personally grow while making a contribution in Canada.

I helped him with as much information as I could with respect to the company whose employment he was seeking. The conversation ended at the time agreed, I wished him luck and we parted company.
Within a couple days I received a wonderful heartfelt handwritten thank you note expressing his appreciation for my taking time out of my busy day to meet with him…a nice touch reminiscent of a different place in time, before email became the norm.

As it turns out he didn’t get the job and wrote me a couple weeks later to tell me the disappointing news and again thanked me for my support. At this point I asked him to send me his résumé, just in case I heard of anything in his chosen field, which he most appreciatively did. I sat on that resume for about 2 months when a colleague of mine approached me in the hall one day and mentioned that he had exhausted his search internally and wondered whether within my network I might know of someone with the unique skill set he was looking for. Serendipitously it turned out to match this young man’s skills to a tee! I passed along his resume to my colleague with the caveat that I really didn’t know this individual all that well but that I had felt from my initial meeting that he was worth taking a look at.
Imagine my surprise a few weeks later when my colleague sent me a quick email thanking me for passing along the resume and informing me that my new coffee partner had turned out to be the lead candidate and that he was about to make him an offer!

This young man is now a colleague in my organization. He is doing very well, in a job more fitting of his skills and talent and loving the opportunity he has been given, and I am proud to have played a minor role in his story.

So why am I sharing this…..
It would have been very easy for me to push delete on the email that day or to simply ignore it as yet another distraction ….so why didn’t I?
Recently, Oprah Winfrey was here in Vancouver. My wife and her long-time girlfriend bought the tickets months in advance and with girlish enthusiasm attended this epic event. On the ride home my wife and her friend enthusiastically shared their evening’s experience. Although there were many nuggets from the conversations with Oprah the one thing that really resonated for me was Oprah’s simple message of listening to your “inner voice”.

On the day I received that email several months earlier for an unexplainable reason there was a tiny voice inside me saying, “this deserves your attention”… I chose to listen and respond. The chain of events this choice set in motion were far reaching, not only for the young man and his family but for our organization who acquired a skilled individual. The impact of this decision is also felt by everyone he tells his story to and who through this sharing is encouraged to take a chance and reach out beyond their comfort zone. Finally, for me personally this was a lasting reinforcement to learn to trust that inner voice and watch the positive events that unfolded as a result of that small gesture.

Not all the actions we take by listening to our inner voice will end as serendipitously as this one did. Often we may never even know the impact of our actions and yet they may and manifest themselves multiple times over in conversations and thought. As I reflect on this experience, I can’t help thinking about how a pebble when tossed makes contact with the water’s surface creating a ripple, that ripple expands well beyond the point of impact and continues long after the initial action touching parts well beyond our line of sight…The first step in this event is to pick up the pebble.

So the next time that inner voice tries to speak within you, listen carefully and act accordingly…. it’s so worth it!

16 Comments

  1. Susan Kleinschmidt
    August 19, 2013

    Jim,

    Thank-you for sharing such a heart warming story. I totally agree with you about listening to your inner voice. One small act of kindness will ripple throughout many lives in unexpected ways. The greatest gift we can give people is our time and undivided attention.

    Love your blog!

    All the best,
    Susan

    Reply
    • August 19, 2013

      Thanks so much for taking the time out to read it and then leave a wonderful comment.
      Thank you again, see you soon. Jim

      Reply
  2. PJ
    August 20, 2013

    Jim,

    What a terrific story!

    We all meet interesting people but asking what we can do to help someone else comes naturally to some but not to all. I’ve always enjoyed building my networking by asking how can this person be better off from know me, not me knowing them. It creates ‘meaningful’ relationships… those relationships often grow into friendships and people may not become a sale or client but a excellent resource to their network to your ideal clients or customers.

    Taking the time to connect for a busy person is hard but this story illustrates the value. What a bonus you added this individual to your organization.
    PJ

    Reply
    • August 20, 2013

      Thanks for taking the time to read and respond Peter. You are one of those people who truly does reach out to expand their network without any thought of personal gain, and that is what endears you to so many. I should know I am one of those you reached out to…thank you!
      Jim

      Reply
  3. Michelle Martin
    August 20, 2013

    Thanks for sharing this story, Jim – it really resonated with me.

    I’m a great believer in the power of intention: that well meaning and wholesome intentions produce positive results, even if they take time to manifest. This story is a fantastic affirmation of this… though what seems like karma couldn’t have played out unless you were picking up on the cues!

    Kudos for recognizing the man’s authenticity in that first email, and then continuing to notice the details that showed so much character. So happy it has worked out so wonderfully for everyone!

    Reply
    • August 20, 2013

      Thanks Michelle
      Hope you are enjoying your sabbatical? I never got the chance to thank you for your guidance on my last Keeping Current article…I have had so many positive comments about it and I will look forward posting a segment of it on my blog. Thanks again for taking the time to read this post and send your wonderful comments, which are so bang on.
      Take care
      Jim

      Reply
  4. Patty
    August 22, 2013

    Great post Jim. I love to hear those stories where the stars align and small favours end with big results. Best wishes.
    Patty

    Reply
    • August 22, 2013

      Thanks Patti, so do I, just makes you feel good inside.
      Thanks for taking the time to read and comment on my post, much appreciated.
      Regards
      Jim

      Reply
  5. Eileen
    August 23, 2013

    Thanks for sharing, Jim. I find that I’m at my most effective when I slow down enough to hear that inner voice and when I am then brave enough to act on it. Both take effort but the outcome often far exceeds anything I could have done by rushing and pushing.

    Reply
    • August 24, 2013

      So true Eileen, thank you for sharing your perspective.
      Regards, Jim

      Reply
  6. Dennis Oudijk
    August 24, 2013

    Jim thank you for sharing this wonderful experience. It is so nice to see that with your busy schedule and life that you took the time to respond and engage with this person whom reached out to you. It would have been so much easier for you to hit the delete button and ignore them, but you choose not to do that. I also have a lot of respect for this person for the initiative and courage that they had to reach out to you directly. Not many people would have done that and obviously they listened to their own inner voice and it paid off.

    In my daily life I always make it a point to say hello to strangers and engage in conversations. I have made a number of friends this way and not long ago met a person from Germany who I saw programming some code at a Starbucks who after engaging in conversation I ended up working with. I come from Europe where we always smiled and said hello to people that we made eye contact with. This does not seem to be the case in North America. My experience is that most people will immediately look away. However, like you, who responded to a person unknown to you, when you do say hello and smile you will always get a positive response.

    I guess my message and response in-keeping with your story is, smile, say hello and take the time to engage with other people. No matter if they are strangers and/or people reaching out to you. It may enrich their life and yours. Nothing feels better than to have an opportunity to help another.

    Reply
    • August 25, 2013

      You are so right Dennis. Thank you for sharing your own insights into listening to your inner voice, and your experience with simply smiling and saying hello. Coming from a small town myself where this was the norm I did find it strange when trying to do the same thing on the streets of Vancouver….got some smiles and the odd hello…but a lot more bewildered looks?
      Thanks again for your comments and your efforts to reach out to others with a simple hello…it can make a real difference in someone’s life. Talk soon, Jim.

      Reply
  7. Greg
    August 26, 2013

    Great article about intuition. Especially in the modern business world, it is so easy to be overwhelmed by communications and to default to time starved survival tactics like “no thank you” responses.

    There certainly is no substitute for intuition, experience and just plain old gut feel. Always pays off in my experience.

    PS. I am almost certain I know exactly who you are talking about and am grateful you listened to your internal voice! He is a great addition to the broader team!

    Reply
    • August 26, 2013

      Thanks Greg, I really appreciate your feedback and insights.You do know who I am talking about and so glad to hear you feel as I do about him being a wonderful addition to the team. Take care, Jim

      Reply
  8. Jackie
    September 30, 2013

    Hi Jim,

    I have just started reading your blog posts and found this entry to be very heartwarming. A little really can go a long way, especially when it’s at no cost to the individual giving. I know that as an industry professional, I have truely appreciated being on the receiving end of help and advice from knowledgable business veterens such as yourself and it’s incredible how much can come from 30 minutes of communication.

    I look forward to reading more!

    Reply
    • September 30, 2013

      Thank you so much for your kind words Jackie. Glad to hear you enjoyed the post and that it resonated for you. Please share it with your network….and I just posted a new one today on what we can learn about teamwork from our proud Canadian symbol the Canada Goose….enjoy and thanks again.

      Reply

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