Make Sure Things Feel Right
I have two quick personal stories to share with you. In the first, I look good. In the second, I don’t. But they both relate to one’s personal feelings, and that’s the topic of today’s post.
A guy I barely knew was in a social networking group with me about about 11 years ago - I’ll call him “Roger” to keep him anonymous. Roger worked as a manager at Burger King, and was well known within the group but not a person with a lot of friends, per se. On one 90+ degree day we played kickball outdoors with the group and I had not stopped at the store for water or anything before we arrived. He had an extra Gatorade from his stop at the store, offered it to me without a second thought, and I couldn’t believe the serendipitous generosity. A simple, inexpensive gesture, but it was meaningful to me and stuck with me thereafter. Flash forward a few years and Roger essentially quit his job and was driving around the country with poorly-written bills he wanted various state legislators to pass protecting kids and families facing childhood cancer. It was a one-man mission, and his heart was in the right place, but he had zero funding and organization to the point where he often ran out of gas money or had to plead to friends on Facebook for money to keep his cell phone active monthly. Periodically he would ask to stay in my guest room, and living by myself I almost never turned him down. Roger probably lived at my condo for a sum total of one year in the subsequent 5 years - 20% of the 5 years, rent free.
Then there is the story of a guy I grew up with, “Tony.” I met Tony in elementary school and he was always stronger, faster, bigger, and more popular than I was. The problem with Tony is he let you know about these facts all the time. We ran on the same track team in High School- he was a champion sprinter, I was just ok at distance running- and he wasn’t a menace to me by any means but he never once looked out for me or made me feel good about myself. I happened to run in college and got down to where I was running the 400m at a pretty good time. Tony ran at a competing college and while I couldn’t beat him in a heads up race, I did get to anchor our 400m team relay once and held him off for some meaningless non-medal…not meaningless to me, as you might have guessed. Flash forward many years and Tony got cancer around age 40. He was an upstanding adult by all accounts, and while not close friends by any means we chatted on Facebook and shared many friends and acquaintances from childhood. He came to town a few years ago to get together with many of those childhood friends and he invited me - I couldn’t make it, but felt odd at even potentially being included at all. The cancer was aggressive, and despite best medical efforts Tony died in 2022 at age 44. I was and remain sad for his family and loved ones, and I know I should’ve forgiven him long ago for his transgressions against me as a child, but when I think of Tony I still am unsettled - while I should simply mourn his early death, a part of me can’t forget the childhood bully.
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
To bring this back into context for my financial clients, I want you to FEEL good about your financial plan. I want you to FEEL like we are on the right track, that your needs are being taken care of, and that your worries are addressed. For many of my clients I know empirically that we are doing the right thing(s), but if the client doesn’t FEEL that then I am only doing part of the job.
Roger had an extra Gatorade once and it made me feel so good I didn’t blink at $15,000 of free rent. Tony died decades before his time, but he made me feel so bad as a kid I was conflicted about his passing. We are all people, not numbers on a spreadsheet, and I want you to FEEL like you’re being uniquely heard and cared for, because you are.