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The Perfect Answer

Posted By: Mike Fitzgerald | Posted on: 08-18-2022

“What can I do; how can I help?”

We often ask this question as casually as we ask, “How are you?”

Although the intent is pure, it’s a terribly imperfect question. I learned last week that it takes the perfect answer to realize this imperfection. It will change the way I ask this question for the rest of my life.

My wife and I met an old friend a few weeks ago. Her name is Oksana. We met several years ago on a cruise. This time, she was wearing a mask, but you could see and feel her radiant smile. You could see her heart in her eyes.

“Oksana, how are you?”

She immediately lied to us and told us we looked great. After several minutes of exchanging pleasantries, I asked, “Can you remind me where you’re from?” She said, “I’m from Ukraine, the eastern part of the country.” The smile didn’t leave her eyes. Her head was held high.

Instinctively I asked, “Your family, your friends. What can we do? How can we help?” I didn’t think before asking the question. What if she had answered, “We’re not safe. We need food, clothing, a safe place to live and help creating new lives. Can you help us?” I can pray. I can send clothes or food. I’d be glad to chat about doing more. But what was I prepared to do beyond that?

Oksana gave the perfect answer. She said, “Help people close to you, and you will be helping people close to us. There is pain and tragedy everywhere. Do what you can to help others, and they are more likely to help others, and so on.”

Wow. I’ll never ask that question the same way again.

Oksana helped me see more clearly that helping make the world a better place starts next door. It starts with my country, my city, my neighborhood, and my family. It starts with me. If I’m living a thankful, meaningful life in service that adds value to the human condition, my mission starts every day, the moment my feet hit the floor.

Oksana’s perfect answer grounded me. Beginning today, I don’t feel helplessly unable to help people like Oksana. My family will serve hers more completely and faithfully…from our own backyard.

Mike Fitzgerald 23 Posts

Fitzgerald MSI provides clients with a talent management framework that helps them make better hiring, advancement and talent development decisions. We identify how people process information and make decisions, predict how they are motivated, and suggest how well they fit into the client’s culture. We help clients select the right people, and accelerate the onboarding and assimilation process to make them more productive, more quickly. And we help clients improve relationships among and between teams, manage training and development gaps, and identify next-generation managers and executive leadership. Mike Fitzgerald, the president of Fitzgerald MSI, created the company in 2002 to help clients achieve peak performance to improve the client experience, improve efficiency and productivity and enhance revenue. Clients include E *TRADE, TransAmerica, Direct General Insurance, HarlandClarke, Cendant Corporation, State Bank Financial Corporation, ING DIRECT (now Capital One), CHD Meridian Healthcare, Radio-One, Wilmington Trust Company, Morris Bank, and more. Fitzgerald is a former chief talent officer, president and CEO, chief operating, officer, and sales, leader. He is a certified practitioner in the Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument (HBDI) and Hogan assessments. He’s been a consultant to Fortune-100 companies, startups, turnarounds, and served as an executive officer for companies as large as $4 billion. He’s an Economics graduate from the University of Massachusetts, a frequent speaker at industry events, and the author of three books on service quality, client experience management, and business communications.