A grain of sand

A grain of sand

A grain of sand

A mid-career accountant with a young family (another expected shortly) had been fired by his partners about a year before he came to me. He thought his dismissal unfair. I reckoned it probably was – but we all think that when we are fired anyway.

So much had this ‘mistreatment’ prayed on his mind that he had lost the will to work, almost the will to live. He had told his wife he was “too busy to get a job”. She had replied that if he didn’t he wouldn’t be seeing the much wanted son she was about to give birth to.

Their little pot of money was running out. Their marriage was on the rocks. A friend sent him to us. He appeared Dishevelled, Demotivated, Disinterested, Distraught. The four ‘Ds’ are a serious warning sign. After an hour’s discussion he agreed to work with us. At his first session I asked him many questions to which he gave clear answers. He had lost the concept of discipline. We have seen it many times. It presages the fifth ‘D’ – Despair. The sixth ‘D’ is almost always Drugs.

In an attempt to re-install some form of discipline I told him about how he could help solve the world’s water problem. Seven billion people wash their hands, on average, seven times a day. Having done so they shake the surplus water off onto the ground or a tissue or some form of towel. It’s only a little water but it happens so often that a great deal of water is sent to oblivion which, with a little thought, could be returned to whatever system it came from.

He agreed to shake his hands over the basin eight times after every wash. Three days later, as we had agreed, he called me to confirm that he was doing so. He asked how long he had to do this. I replied “for the rest of your life”. He winced but agreed. I then asked him to add another discipline to his routine. On rising every morning and before retiring every night he was to tell his wife that he loved her. He agreed – also for the rest of his life.

These two small disciplines were enough to remind him of the importance of order. When the next job opportunity was unearthed with a world-wide organisation we coached him on how to conduct the several interviews he was to have. There were a great many applicants for the job and there was no chance of his getting it but the interviews would be a good rehearsal for later jobs. He learnt the art of interview through six tough role-play sessions. He got the job.

He has told me that he has never enjoyed a job so much, that his family is back on track and his son has successfully joined the world. He is in the seventh ‘D’ – Delighted.

Shaking surplus water off your hands seems such a trivial discipline, doesn’t it? In truth, no discipline is trivial if it reminds us that we have choices whatever our circumstances.

A grain of sand is tiny. In the right environment it produces a pearl.

May you have good grains of sand in your life.