“The older I get,” wrote television legend Fred Rogers, “the more convinced I am that the space between people who are trying their best to understand each other is hallowed ground.”
I did not grow up in Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, but in a way, I vicariously went there when our three children were young. Every afternoon, they were glued to the television as Mr. Rogers sang his way into and out of 30 minutes of wonder, learning, and love. In this difficult, even dangerous season of domestic and global instability, we long for such a voice now silenced more than 19 years ago when he died.
What is this “hallowed ground” between two people who deeply long to understand each other? What does this metaphor say to advisors who, through calls and visits, connect with the people they served or would like to serve? Is this “hallowed ground” language even appropriate in business? Some would say it’s not. But if it is, what would such sacred turf look and feel like in 2022?
In my experience, moments with clients that are transformational and life-changing have this hallowed ground factor. You may suddenly feel humbled when another shares a story of failure or triumph, disappointment, or renewal. Times are, you find yourself in a conversationally barren, lifeless patch of dusty dirt. A client reveals how the loss of a parent has immobilized the estate-settling process. They look up and see your face and you know, somewhere in your soul, that you are standing on hallowed ground.
Such awareness of life’s holy places does not come without our own time spent there. Some are so “professional” and “together” that they sidestep those tender places in their stories that changed who they are. Others choose another way, embracing the power of their own story. Naming those tough places in their lives makes them more self-aware. I contend that advisors who choose to stand on their own hallowed ground more readily perceive those places in others.
Here at summer’s end, what if you chose to revisit your own story looking for the hallowed ground on which you have stood? Was it a magical season when you met your spouse, that first “real” job when you connected with a trusted mentor, the birth of your first child? Keep looking. Find those difficult, rocky, lonely places when death visited, a career took a setback, a relationship died, or money was in short supply. Who was there? What did you learn? What did life shape in you and bring from you that is now sacred memory?
Most of all, choose to stay focused on understanding others, listening to stories, putting a finger on your joy and pain pressure points aware of those places in others. Doing so will change you for the better and may well transport you and your clients to some transformative hallowed ground. I can’t think of anything that will more humanize your work and draw your clients closer to you and you to them.
Image credit: Walt Seng (given in “eBay (v2)”), Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.
All on point Tim. Showing vulnerability brings others closer to you, more willing to open up and share their own vulnerability. Hallowed ground, or hallowed space, is an apt description.
Thanks for sharing.