Our Life’s stories and experiences may be different. But they often lead us to similar learnings. And through them we understand the beauty and magic of being compassionate, trusting and human.
Some time ago, someone to whom I owed some money called me up. He, a renowned scientist and the CEO of a large cutting-edge biotech company, politely enquired when I could return the money I owed him. I told him in detail about my challenged circumstances and prayed for more time. He immediately enquired about the latest Programs on offer from my Firm and signed us up, over the phone, to deliver two workshops for his team. He said while my repayment to him could wait, I could do well to earn some badly-needed income creating value for and on his team. He said he wanted my “influence” on his team! I was overwhelmed. It was the first time in several months that some work had come by. I was humbled too because rightfully, I was the one who had to be repaying this gentleman because his money was long overdue. But here he was, yet again, stepping up to help me, my family and my beleaguered Firm. We completed the workshops and his team members, I learned, benefited greatly from the experience. Although it was agreed that we would be paid in advance for both workshops, it wasn’t until much after the second workshop that we were paid for it. I did not see any point in making this an issue, although as a Firm we always insist on being paid fully in advance, because of both the circumstances and our relationship with the CEO.
However, the CEO called me up the day after the engagement fees were credited into our account and said, “I am sorry my folks delayed your payment. I am really sorry.”
I was dumbfounded. I said, “Sir, while I can’t say it is okay because of our grave circumstances, I really don’t think you should apologize. You have done more than we can ever imagine or ask for.”
The CEO replied: “AVIS, it’s just a phase you are going through. I know what it feels like to be where you are. Pay me back when able. Hang in there. This too shall pass.”
I was speechless. And was immediately reminded of a story I had read in Learning from the Heartby Daniel Gottlieb.
An old Hasidic rabbi asked his pupils how to tell when night ended and the morning began (which is the time for holy prayers).
“Is it when you see an animal in the distance and say whether it is a sheep or a dog?” asked one pupil.
“No,” said the rabbi.
“Is it when you can look at a tree and say whether it is a fig tree or a pear tree?” asked another.
“No,” said the rabbi again.
After trying a few more times, the pupils pleaded with the rabbi to tell them the answer.
Replied the rabbi: “It is when you can look at the face of any man or woman and know that they are your sister or brother. Until then, it is still night.”
What I learned__and we can all learn__from the CEO is a lesson in magnanimity alright. But I also learned compassion. I understood that it is important to see someone’s need as always bigger than our want. There is so much darkness in our lives because we simply have stopped connecting with each other as humans. To be human is a gift. Let’s celebrate it by remaining compassionate, trusting and, above all, human!