In times of duress, like trying to run a business during a global pandemic, I have seen mostly the greatness of humanity- the generosity of spirit, the love and kindness from clients with their words, their purchases, their care.
I can, without hesitation, say this has been the case 99% of the time.
Acts of kindness can be in the form of a note along with their check they wrote for their purchase instead of paying with a credit card knowing that the exorbitant fees charged add up during a time like this.
It can come in just calling to say hello to tell us they are missing our services and will be back when they feel safe again. I even have had clients ask me if I needed any help packing orders for the holidays.
It can be a call from a client saying that they have a gift card and that they will just hold on to it to use it when we are back on our feet and instead they pay for a service or a product.
It can be that they come in for a service knowing that we have done whatever is humanly possible to help them feel that it is as ok as humanly possible to get a close contact service during these times.
Sometimes it is just a random conversation when I am out on my bike and I run into a client who says something touching when I have least expected it.
Or it can be like the letter I received from a client who explained why she was including a $120 check with it that brought me to my knees with tears as I realized what all businesses are going through. It is so easy to forget the trauma when every day is so consumed with just trying to stay above water. (watch the video below to learn more).
We hear stories like this all the time about human behavior. The stories of the heart at its best when we are at the times of our worst.
This is what makes owning a business during a pandemic worth getting out of bed. It has never been about the money. The money is the gravy from the intent of offering a high quality service and having the best clients in the world.
But money is a necessity for sure. Without cash, there is no business, there is only debt and debt is a strain and a burden on a small business in good times, never mind the bad times.
Then there is that irritating one percent that gets stuck in my teeth like a piece of popcorn kernel. There are not many of them, thankfully, but they can weigh on my spirit in ways they would likely be embarrassed about if they knew how their behavior showed on my end.
The client who has a gift card and uses it towards product for the exact amount of the purchase, to the penny including tax even, not thinking for one moment that maybe just an extra ten or fifteen dollars could really help a small business. Or the client who wants to use the remaining balance of five dollars from a gift card they hadn’t used in years they found in the back of their drawers when they were cleaning so they could check off their list as accomplished.
Then there are the clients who complain that I closed a location and they don’t want to make a drive to the one I kept because it is “too far” when we live in a state that you can drive the entire state in less than an hour.
There are the people out there who are also in high stress land and just can’t think beyond themselves. I have empathy and tolerance, but I don’t have to like it and I surely don’t have to surround myself with the negativity. Negativity is one element I remove myself from as much as possible.
I happily release the negativity to other places because if I have learned one thing during this pandemic, it is to surround myself with the support and love of the 99%.
I have learned to SURRENDER. To release the worry, the panic and feeling bad because I don’t feel like putting on a game face today but rather just speak my truth with as much kindness as I can muster.
This is the gift of Covid. Realizing that despite what I have lost in my business—one entire full location, seventeen employees, hundreds of thousands of dollars, a clientele that I spent fifteen years building and nurturing in a neighborhood that is one of the best and most loyal areas in our state along with the toll on my health and wellness, I have also gained the gift of Surrender.
There is nothing I can do about any of this. This experience is a global one and we are all going though this together even though many of us are apart.
It is only a business. It could all be so much worse and it is not. So if I grumble occasionally, it is just to work on my need to feel humble. Sometimes I forget this— to stay humble. Sometimes I just want to be cranky.
Instead, I head towards the gratitude party. I change my mindset to words of thanks. I am grateful to have 99% clients who care for my business like it is part of their own family. I am grateful for my health, for the health of my family and friends, for shelter.
This is the best part of Covid, realizing and remembering to focus on the amazing love from the people I have had the privilege of serving and hope to serve for a long time. If something good has to come out of this nightmare, then let it be empathy, gratitude and kindness. We surely need more of this.