by George Thompson
Customer service is alive and well, at least at a car dealership in Lawrence, Kansas. A couple of months ago I was car shopping, and stopped by Lawrence Kia. I met a manager who said, “What can we do to earn your business?” His question made an impact on me, and I bought a 2016 Hyundai Sonata from them that day. It has been getting 35 miles to the gallon on my commute, and I am happy.
The remote access key I got from them had been glitchy — sometimes I had to push the button six times to get the door to open. The dealership wanted to make it right, and needed my car for a few hours to program the key. I wanted to leave my car with them while I was out of town, but logistics were getting the best of me with all the commuting I do, and the flight I needed to catch. If they had my car, how would I get to work and then to the airport?
I have been experimenting with asking for help, so I presented the dilemma to Kevin, one of the used car managers. He had a solution that I had not even considered. I would drive my car to work in Olathe, 35 minutes away. He would send his driver Harvey to my office in the afternoon, and Harvey would drive with me the 40 minutes from my office to the airport, then drive my car the 50 minutes back to the dealership. A second driver would bring Harvey to my office and then return to the dealership, 35 minutes each way.
His offer blew me away. I had already bought a car from them, so their kindness could only be described as goodwill.
Goodwill seems to be a missing commodity these days — that sense that someone has gone out of their way to help you. As I was driving to the airport with Harvey, I was filled with gratitude. My heart swelled with the refrain of, “What a good world this is today.” I wondered how I could pass all this goodwill on to someone else. I could not keep that grace just for myself.
This urge to share kindness stopped my busy mind long enough to contemplate a few questions. How much consideration could we show each other? How quickly could goodwill spread? What if the world could be like this always? And why shouldn’t this come to pass?
The next few days I couldn’t help but pass the kindness along. When I saw a fellow traveler struggling to lift his bag into the overhead compartment of the plane, I stepped in to help him. I smiled at people I didn’t know. I happily created a celebration so a coworker could share his success with his team. I answered more requests with an open-hearted, “Yes!”
I acted on ways to be more generous in more challenging situations as well. When my Avatar® mentor, Avra, gave me feedback about how I could have handled a situation better, I really listened to her viewpoint and saw things from her perspective. In the past, I would have listened mostly for ways to defend what I had done. But, surprisingly, with my heart filled with gratitude from receiving and paying forward grace, I was able to stay present and hear her make good points. I hadn’t done things skillfully. I could have done better. I had made mistakes. Then the surprise offered another gift. I saw that what Avra suggested might still be possible, and so I asked her. She said yes, we could still move forward. Generous listening had opened a door that I would have never opened before, and allowed me to give my mentor the gift of accepting and using her help.
Looking back, I see how my ego has prevented me from asking for support because I don’t want to look like someone who needs help. When I stretched past my ego to ask Kevin for his ideas, I created room for the grace of his good will to arise. Requiring my Avra’s assistance to fix my mistakes threatened my pretense, but grace opened my heart past such concerns to receive her wisdom. As it turned out, I hadn’t gone to the dealership to get my key fixed, but to learn that spreading goodwill is the key to a generous spirit and unimaginable grace.