Patrick was once a classmate of mine when we were both enrolled in a three year business, career, and life coaching program. Like all of us in the class Patrick, a trial lawyer, would probably describe himself as a mid-life hard-charging, success-driven, type-A personality. It was the reason we were getting coached, to learn how to channel our energies toward less self-centered activities, to “giving back” if you will. So along those lines one day we were given an interesting assignment. We were to arrange a quiet romantic dinner with our wives during which we were to ask this question: “If I could do anything in the world to make your dreams come true, what would that be?” Talk about making ourselves vulnerable! Whoa! Of course, that was the point of the exercise.
When we reported back the following month it was Patrick who had the best story. Picture the scene. Patrick has asked his wife about her dreams, so here he is standing at the plate bracing for a fast inside curve ball – bigger house, fancier car, trip to Europe – and he’s prepared to swing for the fence. Not what happened! Instead, she lobbed a pitch so slow and easy that Patrick was stunned, standing there slack-jawed and dropping his bat as the ball landed softly in the catcher’s mitt while the umpire called out “stee-rike!” Here’s what she said, “Do you know what I really want, dear? I just wish you would help me make up the bed in the morning. That would make my dreams come true.”
By his own admission Patrick had been so focused on the BIG things – being the BIG man, winning the BIG trial, making the BIG bucks, hitting the homerun – that he failed to see what was really important. Just two extra minutes of his time before he went running out the door, to help make the bed, that’s all his wife really wanted.
Patrick’s wife delivered her pitch right in the middle of the strike zone, didn’t she? Too often we think it’s the big things in life that make our dreams come true – the BIG jobs, the BIG careers, the BIG sales, the BIG promotions, the BIG houses, the BIG bucks. Or we think it’s the BIG crises in the world, the BIG news headlines, the BIG economic issues that are causing our own BIG problems. But she reminded us otherwise, that maybe our dreams really come true when we pay attention to the little things, two minutes here, a kind word there, a listening ear, or a helping hand. . . . Now I’m not going to speculate that helping make up the bed in the morning is exactly what makes my own wife’s dreams come true, but since that day I’ve never failed to do so. It’s a little thing, but maybe it’s a step in the right direction.