Several years ago, when I was working as a salesman for a company that supplied food wrapping machinery, I found myself in a large produce processing factory with an engineer called Billy. I was there to see how their current stock of machines were doing and explore the possibility of selling them one or two new ones. Billy was there as our referral agent but also on that day, to urgently repair one of the older machines that had broken down.
Now most people don’t get to see what it is like inside any kind of food processing factory but from experience, I can tell you they are extremely busy places. The sheer volume of product that comes down the highly automated lines is mesmerising in itself. So you can imagine, when a machine suddenly stops working, the line it was stationed on immediately becomes very clogged indeed with product that would normally be flowing at the rate of anything from 50-120 items a minute!
I will never forget the relative calm that Billy examined the machine and then looked inside his tool bag. I seem to remember that one of his bags was in fact, an old briefcase with a sealed compartment where he stored amassive variety of nuts and bolts and all kinds of fixings, gubbings and all the other technical terms for things that make bigger things work. Inside this compartment, there was literally a sea of stuff that was so deep, half his hand disappeared into them as he searched for an identical screw from the one that had worked itself loose from the machine in question.
“I know it’s in ‘ere somewhere,” he muttered in his raw, “Lancashire,
God’s own county” accent. I had absolute confidence in his ability to
fix the machine amid the increasing clamour around for us for the
resurrection of the line but how on earth would he find that single
screw? A few seconds later, I was open-mouthed in amazement as he pulled the screw out of the sea of seeming infinity. A few minutes after that, the entire line was up and running and everyone was happy.
I don’t think we ever did sell them a new machine. The reason? The
sheer expertise and technical genius of Billy from Lancashire
to regularly resurrect their machines from the dead of course.
Then, just the other day, I needed some help from a client actually, to help me to retrieve a really important folder that had seemingly disappeared from my USB stick. We ended up talking on the phone as he was driving (hands free of course!) and the route he took me around the laptop to run some initial tests would have had me more lost than ever if I’d attempted to do this alone. The fact that he was doing this without even seeing the screen in front of him was impressing me with every minute that went by.
The time came to try and locate the folder in another part of the computer and then fully retrieve it to its original location and
there it was! A quick check in with one or two of the files that I had found earlier but were strangely empty and sure enough, the
content was restored. “Thank you Daniel, you’re a genius!” came the very relieved and grateful response down the line.
We all love it of course don’t we, when someone who really knows what
they’re doing is able to literally lift us out of our apparently helpless,
hopeless pit of frustration. That is true value in action right there.
So, when was the last time someone came along and did that for you?
Or more importantly, when was the last time you were able to do something for someone else?
What is your expertise, your natural ability that can always help another human being?
It may have nothing to do with your business or job – it’s just something you can do, whenever the need arises.
I was with someone this week who needs my help and guess what I’m going to do?
If it wasn’t for Daniel this week and his genius reminding me of that epic feat of mechanical resurrection performed by Billy from Lancashire, perhaps I may not have been so willing to get involved on an ongoing basis. As long as it doesn’t involve fixing any kind of machine or remotely trouble-shooting a computer, I’ll be fine!