Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Making a Difference

I'm often asked about my journey into becoming an organic foods purveyor.  When that happens, I oftentimes pause before answering, because so many things entered into this decision.  It encompasses so much, including support of my wife Terry who founded Winter Goddess Foods, my own physical disability, the need to find an alternative to traditional employment, and my own personal disgust toward corporate America's devaluing of the meaningful contribution of individual workers.  It also includes my own growth in discovering how to listen to my body, and the importance of recognizing what is good for it as well as what is not.

Suffice it to say it is very complicated.

The pinnacle reason why I enjoy doing what I do stems from a meeting I attended back in 2008, when I worked for the Behavior Health arm of a major medical insurance company.  I was charged with providing coverage information to providers and to our subscribers, as well as alternatives in the case of non coverage scenarios.  Typically I would be assisting family members, caregivers, and the patients themselves, and since it was the Behavioral Health branch, at times I found myself enmeshed in crisis situations (suicide threats). At that time there was a real push toward being "customer oriented" and actually caring for the person on the other end of the phone line, as opposed to spouting information, and terminating the call.   

As a relatively new hire, I listened intently to the long tenured director of our department, as he discussed his mindset regarding how he approached our job.  He said to us:

"After I finish my work day, I go home, step into my office and I get real quiet.  I review the events of my day, and then ask myself, 'Did you make a difference in someone's life today?'"

My mind was completely blown when I heard him say this!  I thought to myself, "Wow! What a wonderful way to live and think.   Instead of clocking in to get a paycheck, I can choose to adopt a lifestyle of service to others."

Now whether this was his heartfelt belief and practice, or just a bold strategy from management 101 to re-direct our attitudes towards the job, I will never know. Frankly it was irrelevant.  For my entire life, all I ever wanted to do was something that mattered, and to be of help to people.  I immediately bought into this idea, and went all in.  I don't even remember the rest of the meeting.  All I focused on was the revelation that yes, my job IS to help people.  Even more importantly, I have the opportunity to actually make a difference in someone's life on a daily basis.  I was ecstatic, and from that day forward entered each work day with thankfulness and renewed vigor.  From that day forward I loved my job!

With renewed focus, I did everything I could to help my callers, and  in the days that followed, management began to take notice, and in time I gained a reputation for displaying exemplary customer service, and received a number of accolades and citations for my hard work.   Unfortunately, several months later, the director who inspired me was transferred into a new position, and I never saw him again.  After he left, the corporate philosophy changed, and I was heartbroken.

Fortunately for me (and for you!) I have never forgotten this man's words.

Making a difference...what a wonderful way to approach life in all aspects!  It is a phenomenal thing to know
that in everything we do, we all have
an opportunity to make a difference in someone's life. Now to be sure, saving someone from committing suicide, or rescuing a child from a burning building are certainly worthy of note.  But you don't necessarily have to be a First Responder in order to help someone.  There are certainly less dramatic ways to make a difference, which are just as important.  Getting involved in your community can be of great benefit to the neighborhood.  Supporting a cause dear to your heart, performing volunteer work for a charity, or helping a child to learn to read are all worthwhile endeavors, and there are so many other things that can be done.  Not only do you help others, but you also gain that good feeling of knowing you are doing good.  Even a simple smile or kind word to a stranger can have far reaching effects on their lives, far beyond what we could ever know.     

To this day, I do everything I can to adhere to this simple message, and incorporate it in all aspects of my life, including when I am preparing our Winter Goddess products.  Since there is power in food, I believe that my good intent and positive energy translates into food and drink that are "Made with Love for your well-being," and can in some small way make a difference in your life as well.  I gain great satisfaction from living this way, and I highly recommend that you give it a try.  Remember, you don't have to save the whole world,  but maybe, just maybe you can effect one person in a positive way. 

Have you made a difference in someone's life today?

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