Each time I meet with clients, I hear my grandma’s voice reminding me to listen more than I talk. When I sit back and quiet my tendency to chatter, my professors step forward and begin that hour’s lesson. Some days, the lessons flow easily from the mouths of individuals who believe in the power of their words. Other days, the lessons come around after a couple hours of discussing a client’s goals and laying out the best method for achieving the desired ends. This past year, I have been the object of some shouts, almost missed the whispers, and often offered a tissue and a shoulder for the sobs. And my grandma: she was right — more than the books I read or trusts I write, it’s the people I work with and next to that shape what I learn every day. This is my favorite part of this job; the reason I come in early and stay late: every day, my clients show me why it is important to recognize the humanity behind every smiling or grumpy or mourning face. It’s these people who show you who you are and why what you do in the world affects more than just yourself.
“We have been married for sixty-three years. And we’ve never fought! Well, maybe not never… rarely have we fought. Do you want to know our secret for a happy marriage? Well, I’ll tell you. Number one, we say ‘I love you’ to each other every day. Number two, we laugh at everything – serious or sad. You’ve got to laugh together. And number three, we like each other. We are best friends. We love and we like. You’ve got to have both. Now… would you like us to introduce you to our grandson?”
“I have been making decisions for myself since I was forty years old. No one makes them for me! So, I went to Thom’s seminars seven or eight times before I decided to come in and talk to him. Once I spoke to him, I knew he knew that I knew he knows what he’s doing. It took me three years to get through those doors, but I’m happy that I did.”
“I’ve lived a farmer’s life — I raised cattle with my daddy and granddaddy; rode the combine like most kids ride bikes; spent nights in the barn tending to sick animals; seen the price for beans rise and fall — and I’ve kept going all just to keep the farm running like my family has done for a hundred years. My kids have all moved away and I don’t know if they will want to come back to all of this once I’m gone. But I’ll be d****d if I’ll let a lien be placed on this land. I ain’t never owed nobody a dime and I sure won’t leave this life with a bill to my name. Thom said he could help me keep that from happening. I’ll accept that promise and hold him to it — even from the grave.”