One of the biggest challenges of helping others is the sense of vulnerability it creates. The world seems to be wired for doing our own thing. “Watch out for number one.” Whenever we make a radical move to help others… in a way that puts our own assets, prospects or health at risk, we can’t help but hesitate.
And so it was with Adam Guy in the days after Sandy hit… all he could think of was the sense of obligation: “I’ve got to go help those people.” But his most serious personal and business advisors warned him sternly: “You will probably lose your business.” For a guy without deep pockets, without even much of a rainy day fund, who places a high priority on safety and forethought… those are not the words you want to hear.
Still, Adam and his crew went.
And on the day they began, they knew their challenge was not just to find people who needed help with their trees … and hoping that some of them could pay … but also getting the word out so that both pro-bono and paying customers could find Adam and his crew.
When they got to Lake Hapatcong New Jersey, Adam started by knocking on doors of houses in obvious distress. He talked to neighbors, networked at coffee shops, and followed the Twitter feed. The Hopatcong-Sparta Patch community newspaper was a great source of leads and information, coordinating relief efforts and keeping distressed people in touch with the folks who were there to help.
Adam also used random acts of kindness to demonstrate his intention of being a help and making a difference. He would show up at Bagels on the Hill and bought $100 worth of bagels for anyone who showed up at the store for breakfast. Pizza, cookies… these little purchases for people who were functionally homeless or in major personal distress demonstrated that Adam felt their pain and understood that the most important part of generosity is not the size of the gift, but the warmth and sense of caring behind it.
Like the Pied Piper, Adam’s infectious good nature and effective work began to get noticed … and within a few days he and his crew was busy from dawn till night, cleaning up after Sandy.
Major blessing … for Adam
Three weeks into the experience, I spoke again with Adam. “Our goal is not to take work from local tree companies” he said. “We just want to be here until they can take over the load.” And what did he learn? His voice choked up… something I didn’t expect from this happy and light-hearted client. “It’s life-changing. I’ve learned that I always need to follow my instincts. I’ve learned that if I stay grateful, and stay open to help, I know for a fact that my needs will be met. I know that whatever happens, I will be alright.”