HAVE YOU EVER BEEN IN CRISIS?
When life dumps a bucket of problems, what do you handle first?
Part of my job with the
law firm, is to meet and sign up potential clients. I see people from a variety of ethnicity and social class.
There is one common denominator. They’ve been through an accident and they are in crisis. It means injuries, doctors’ appointments, medical and car rental bills, missed time from work – while life is still going on.
One client stood out. I met Jose, at Starbucks. He got there ahead of me and paid for his coffee. I told him , I should have paid. He sighed and said- that was his last money.
Over coffee, he said they lost their home and was staying in a cheap hotel with his family. His wife was sick and not working. The motorbike he was using for work was damaged in the accident. He broke down and cried.
Not knowing what to say, I did what a Filipina would do. I asked – “Do you want something to eat?” He asked for a muffin.
And then I remembered many moons ago. My kids and I were in a hotel, not knowing what to do next, with our lives. After the collapse of my first marriage, we left our family home.
I took off my corporate hat and just became another human being. I told Jose my story. How broke and deep in debt I was years ago. My struggle to raise my four kids, how I almost lost my car and struggled to pay my bills.
He looked at me in disbelief and said – ‘It couldn’t be. You look too well dressed and successful.” I assured him that my story is real.
He said – “I don’t even know what to do first. My bills are piling up.”
I shared with Jose something I learned -when life was falling apart, when nothing seems to work, and everything was a deadline.
Live moment by moment
Don’t even think about tomorrow. Not even tonight. Just handle what is in front of you.
Years ago, in that hotel room in Alabang, I had so much on my plate. When can we go back home? What will happen to my kids’ schooling? At that point, I took a deep breath and decided, I will order lunch. I will figure out the rest after we eat. We cannot fast forward life.
CRISIS MANAGEMENT 101
As a sales trainor I learned that it is always best to teach people in bullet points.
- FACE THE PROBLEM Do not run from it but break it down into manageable bites.
- LEARN TO PRIORITIZE In a financial crisis, do not attempt to fix everything. Pay bills based on urgency.
- POWER OF ASKING If you don’t ask, you don’t get help. Most creditors can extend the grace period if you ask. I told Jose to call all the utility companies and ask if he can make partial payments.
- STOP BEING A VICTIM Stop blaming people and circumstances. Take responsibility. At some point, I stopped blaming my ex-husband for our situation. I told myself, this is now my watch.
- SELF CARE Eat well, drink lots of water, and get sleep. Jose’s eyes were sunken from lack of sleep. When we are not well, we cannot make good decisions. I shared with him the story of Elijah when God told him to eat and sleep. Sometimes, the most spiritual thing we can do is to sleep.
- PRAY He said – I’m a believer, but I have not prayed in a long time. I told him to just be honest and cry out. No fancy prayers required.
- BELIEVE THIS TRUTH – Nothing goes on forever.
- BREATHE AND TAKE BREAKS Some people focus on the debt or the crisis. You cannot. You need the energy to keep going. Even in our worst time, my kids and I take cheap vacations. I needed to remind myself and my kids, that life is good.
By the time we were done, Jose was already smiling. He said a heavyweight has been taken off his shoulders.
My son, Carl, who was with me suggested – “Why don’t you get him a bucket of chicken” There was a Jollibee across Starbucks in Anaheim.
That night, I got a text from Jose. It was photo of his daughter eating Chicken Joy. With the message, “You don’t know how much you have done for us today.”
I realized, I have gone full circle.