Back in late September of 2014, I received an email inquiry via my website. I receive these frequently and do my best to try to respond and be helpful. This note was from a man who I don’t recall having communicated with previously and who was also clearly in a bad mental state. Below is his actual note, reprinted with his permission and with identifying information redacted.
I share this story because it’s not only personal, but because it shows how small gestures can help inspire a shift in mindset and how that shift in mindset can lead to a change of circumstances.
Carol, I am writing this because I am a desperate man who is just trying to avoid a melt-down. I am a fan of yours and I hope you can give me a minute of your time.
I have a B.S. in [redacted] (who cares) and I have been an unsuccessful small business owner. I had to relocate to [redacted] so my wife and I could take care of some family members. This state sucks for jobs because so many people are educated and willing to work for peanuts.
All I can find are super low-paying jobs. I am working three jobs right now just to survive and I can't go on like this very much longer. Do you have any tips or advice on how I can find a good job or of any small businesses I can start? I have the brain and the drive to be successful, but I am clueless on how to do it.
Thanks for your time.
I could tell that he was grasping for any words of encouragement, so I sent the following response.
Hi [name redacted],
First, let me commend you for your courage to reach out and get help when things aren't going right. We've all been there, so I want to let you know to hang tight and focus on the good as much as possible.
My first thought is wondering if there's opportunity in some of the low paying jobs you have taken on? You may have viewed something as temporary, but it's a door opener. Can you work hard, dazzle customers and your employers, etc., and use that as a stepping stone to something more? Your
current position may be "below" you, but even the smallest opportunity can prove fortuitous.
My second thought is wondering if you can add some training into your mix? Perhaps something like training to be an x-ray tech or something in the healthcare field (those jobs are beyond in demand and will only continue to grow with the aging of the population, and they pay nicely).
I firmly believe that smart, hardworking people do well in time, so make sure to take care of yourself and not be too hard on yourself too to weather out the storm.
I hope these words and suggestions provide you some assistance.
I send notes like this off into cyberspace, and sometimes, I do get a progress update. But to my surprise, I recently received the following response, which completely humbled me, beyond what I could have imagined.
I know you are busy but I had to write you again with an update. I finally landed a job that is far and away above my old standard of what I thought I needed to earn a living. [Company name redacted] just hired me and nobody else in my family has ever made over 100k like I will now be making (holy crap).
If you note the date on our previous conversation below, a few years have passed. I don't even know where to begin but I have to thank you for your words of encouragement because they were true and they helped me make it through a terrible and humbling journey. I am still in a little shock but you were correct about people who strive to be smart and hardworking, they do eventually find success.
So, thank you for taking the time to answer this humble guy's e-mail a few years back. It had a profound influence on me and I thank you for that. However, I want you to know that your encouragement did not just touch me and just my life. Since that time, I have helped three friends and two acquaintances get better jobs and experience some upward mobility of their own. I wish you could physically see all the faces of those connected to those five people and how they will be positively affected. Your simple act of kindness has produced a massive ripple which can never be measured.
Like I mentioned, I have been broken down and humbled during the last few years. I am now even more thankful and feel even more blessed and I wear that all on my sleeve. I want you to know that from one human to another, I love you and my family loves you and we are grateful for you. Thank you for being you and thank you for everything. I hope I get to meet you one of these years but if I don't, I take great comfort knowing that I got to meet you via e-mail and that I got to express my gratitude.
P.S. I will be immediately starting my masters degree in business so who knows, I might find a 200k job one day (fingers crossed with a grin).
I asked his permission and wanted to share this interaction for a few reasons. First, here’s a man who didn’t know where to turn. He was feeling the pressure of working three jobs and was underemployed. What he needed was just someone else -- anyone else -- to believe in him so he could keep persevering. That mindset shift let him land a job beyond his expectations.
Moreover, he was willing to ask for help -- and to ask anyone for it. He literally emailed a stranger. But, he took action and in return, got a reaction that he needed to strengthen his mental fortitude.
I also share this correspondence because what I did was a very small gesture that anyone could have done. We often don’t realize what an impact our caring about others -- whether stranger, neighbor, friend or family -- can do and how a few choice words at the right time can be a catalyst for someone else to do great things. Don’t doubt that your positive words and acknowledgement can provide more impact than you could ever imagine.
Carol Roth is the creator of the Future File™ legacy planning system, a “recovering” investment banker, business advisor, entrepreneur and best-selling author. She is also a reality TV show judge, media...