Unlocking the Past to Help in the Present

This article was originally published on the FCR blog on October 26,2018. Click here to read the original.

I’m not one of those people you’ll ever hear utter the phrase, “Everything happens for a reason.” It’s a nice thought when we’re the recipient of a million bucks, or we just so happen to get a great parking spot, or Taylor Swift retweets us (still waiting on that last one). But what do we do with the innumerable tragedies and injustices in our world? Think on those things for a bit and it’s hard to carry on the belief that everything happens for a reason.

That being said, you’re more likely to hear me talk about the good that can come from difficult situations. There’s been a lot being said and written right now about how challenges, tragedies, and failures can spurn us on toward personal and professional growth — and that is a good thing.

A while back I had the privilege of being a mentor through the Support Driven Community to a fellow customer support professional who was a bit newer to the journey than me. For the record, I didn’t sign up to mentor thinking I was God’s gift to the customer support community. On the contrary I had a bit of imposter syndrome going on? What about my past experience in customer service could help someone else? Ultimately this was more of an effort to step out of my comfort zone, try something new, and hopefully do a bit of good along the way.

So I was paired with a mentee who worked in a similar line of work as me and we began meeting every couple weeks. Our conversations typically centered around the challenges of working customer service for a SAAS (software as a service) startup. We talked both about customer-facing challenges and some typical team dynamics.

My goal was to listen as much as possible and then try to offer something of value that would help in her present situation. Somewhere in there I had a funny realization. I was sharing experiences — some difficult and some not so much — from the past and they actually seemed to be helping. In some cases, they even brought comfort amid a challenge. And can I tell you that when I was going through some of those experiences, I never anticipated that they would help someone else?

I guess this post could be about mentoring and I could end with a call to action that implores everyone to mentor, be mentored, or both. While I think that’s important and would personally like to do more of it, I also think we all have circles of influence in a less formal setting where our past experiences can add tremendous value.

I actually want to sum this up into one, broader point (and you’re welcome to Tweet this if you’d like). Here it is:

Don’t underestimate the potential for the seemingly unimportant or undesirable circumstances of your past to add significant value to the life of another in the present or future. Click to Tweet

I’m not sure you’ll ever convince me that all things happen for a reason, but do I think there’s good that can come from bad situations? Absolutely! And sometimes that good is the fact that because you’ve already gone through it, someone else isn’t alone when they’re going through it.

Jeremy Watkin is the Director of Customer Experience at FCR, the premiere provider of outsourced call center and business process solutions. He has more than 17 years of experience as a customer service and experience professional. He is co-founder of the Customer Service Life blog and a regular contributor. Jeremy has been recognized many times for his thought leadership. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn for more awesome customer service and experience insights.

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