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Being of Service

The Gift We All Have Access To


Years ago I made a promise to myself that I would choose to see the twilight years of my parents’ lives as an opportunity to be of service, rather than feeling that they are a burden.

 

This was really important for a couple of reasons. First and foremost, to ensure that my thoughts, words and actions are aligned with how I want my beautiful parents to experience my contribution to the final years of their lives. 

 

Secondly, approaching this potentially challenging period of my life with an empowering perspective of choosing to be in service (rather than coming from a disempowering perspective of being obligated) would help to make it a more fulfilling experience for me personally.

 

That time is now. 

 

I could never have prepared for what has unfolded over the past couple of months. It’s been challenging, scary and completely unpredictable.

 

Following my Dad’s stroke in March this year, my family have been navigating the challenges of securing the best possible care for him; from hospital specialists, to rehabilitation facilities, and now to finding a permanent care facility. On top of that, our focus has also been on Mum, who’s dealing with the grief and uncertainty of this new normal.

 

Never before have I felt such a pull to be of service to my parents.

 

There have been moments of absolute discomfort, heart-breaking realisations, and complete physical and emotional exhaustion.

 

At the same time, there have been moments of immense gratitude, playful banter and genuine, abundant love. This time with Dad has provided joyful insights into how we (his children) can be there to support and comfort him during times of distress. 

 

Anyone who’s experienced the privilege of living with aging parents knows how much their world shrinks, their perspectives shift and their needs grow. There’s a regression to childlike tendencies, with the developmental timeclock seeming to be moving in reverse. 


Whilst partly terrifying, sometimes challenging and often exhausting (as I imagine it is for parents of a new born), this act of caring for my parents feels like it’s always meant to be.  


Being of service in such a genuine way is a gift. I don’t believe there is anything I’ve ever done that has felt more rewarding.

 

The whole experience of being in service for my parents has led me to consider the parallels to my work life, and how I’ve chosen a career that requires me to be in service of my clients.

 

Whilst there are many ways that these scenarios differ, I can also see many similarities.

 

As decorators, designers and architects, we've made a decision to be of service to our clients.

 

Ultimately, I’ve chosen to help my clients navigate an experience that, although exciting, can also be quite terrifying. Embarking on a project can be quite a scary proposition for most of our clients. There’s so much riding on the project’s success, from emotional, physical and financial perspectives. 

 

As I shared with one of my coaching clients recently, we have the privilege of holding our clients' hands through what is known to be one of the most stressful experiences of their entire life. When we do this well, we have the opportunity to bring real joy and satisfaction to the lives of so many people - not just the clients themselves, but the many people who will get to inhabit and interact with the spaces we have designed.

 

What an incredible gift!

 

I’m often bewildered by the number of our members who find it difficult to articulate their “why” within the parameters of their business. My advice is always to consider how they’re changing the lives of their clients for the better; how they’re being of service to their clients.

 

Considering the journey I’m currently navigating with my parents, and the energy I choose to show up with, there’s also similarities to my work life.

 

Through all of the challenging moments and periods of uncertainty our clients might experience on a project, we can choose to be a calming presence, providing security, safety and guidance. This sort of support can completely make or break their entire project experience.

 

I also encourage our members to consider that being of service can extend way beyond the boundaries of what we would most commonly perceive to be standard services (the main actions involved in creating and documenting their designs). These can be found by considering how we’re enriching or enhancing their lives in ways that touch, move and inspire them ongoingly.

 

Within my interior design business MR. MITCHELL, I’m very clear that my mission is to “Connect People Through Great Design”. I love building relationships with everyone involved in the project, from collaborators, to suppliers, trades and of course, the clients themselves. My belief is that the relationships we develop will far outlive the bricks and mortar of the spaces we’ve designed. 

 

This has been proven time and time again, with many of my favourite clients remaining in close contact throughout various projects, the commonality being the bond we have created, not the buildings we’ve designed.

 

This is one of the main ways I choose to be of service to my clients. Not only do they get a beautiful, functional home (or business space), they’ve been introduced to a wonderful community of people. It’s often a pleasantly surprising benefit that clients find once they have worked with me; one that sets me apart from many others in the industry.

 

Another way I provide service to my clients is through my rigorous, consistent systems and processes (no surprises there). I believe that the processes I follow achieve the best outcomes for all parties involved. They help to manage expectations around all aspects of a project, from design outcomes, to budget and timeframes. All of these services can help minimise disappointments and maximise transparency, ensuring that communication is open and consistent.

 

As business owners we have a choice. When the chips are down, and it seems that the challenges we face are insurmountable, it helps to be reminded of our choice to be in service of our clients through the highs and lows of their project journey.

 

This week I finished reading a wonderful book "Unreasonable Hospitality" by American restauranteur Will Guidara (thanks Marcus for gifting me this inspiring book). Will explains his journey to taking his restaurant Eleven Madison Park in New York to a 3 Michelin Starred restaurant that was awarded the Number One Restaurant in the World in 2017.

 

He did this by creating service that went way beyond what other restaurants would consider "reasonable". He wanted the front of house experience to be as good as the incredible food that was being produced in the kitchen. They appointed staff members called Dream Weavers, whose sole responsibility was to facilitate special, memorable experiences for their guests.

 

Will explains in the book that this devotion to delivering service that goes above and beyond can be applied to any service industry. It's made me start to think of new ways that I (as both a designer and coach) can take my service to new levels.

 

Whilst the journey with my parents is thankfully far from over, and I have much more to learn about what my promise to them will require of me, I feel contentment in the choices I’ve made. To be honest, I think that we’re in one of the most challenging moments of all time as a family, but the overarching intention to be of service helps make it all somehow feel OK.

 

What are your ideas about being of service?

 

I'd love to hear about the service experiences you've had that stopped you in your tracks, or the service that you've offered to your clients that went above and beyond.

 

If you need help implementing your service ideas, I'd love to help! Reach out to me directly at hello@thedesigncoach.com.au to set up a time to chat about your ideas.

 

Thanks again to our wonderful community for your constant support.

 

Until next week, stay well and always be kind.

 

Regards,

Andrew 

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