Earlier this year I spoke at a conference to about 100 or so business owners over the course of 2 days. During that time period, I had the opportunity to give 4 seminars, all of which were sequential in terms of beginning to advanced principles in content marketing. Because each session built upon the previous one, it was as technical and strategic as it gets for audience members just thirsting to advance their business in some way, shape, or form on the web.
After my final session of speaking to the group and shaking hands with the many audience members that approached the front, something happened to me that I won’t soon forget.
With a timid and concerned look in his eye, a gentleman, likely in his 40s, came up to me and we proceeded to have the following conversation:
Gentleman: Hi Marcus, thank you so much for these last two days. I have a question for you and it doesn’t have anything to do with marketing, or business, or the Internet…but I feel strongly that I should ask you this.
Me: Please do.
Gentleman: About 6 months ago my son failed to make the school basketball team. After getting cut, he seems to have gone into a downward spiral. These days he drowns himself in video games and almost never leaves his room. Frankly, I can’t seem to get through to him and I’m starting to get scared…what should I do?
It’s a funny thing how life works. In a million years, I would not have expected this type of question after spending what was about 6 hours giving an extremely technical class on content marketing. But there it was—a deeply concerned father who simply wanted to reach his struggling boy—a subject to him that was way more important than generating another lead or sale for his company.
Even more profound, at least to me, was what happened next. Without even hesitating, it seemed as though I knew what to say before he had even finished his question. It was almost as if the answer had been waiting inside me and it was just looking for a way out, without me even realizing it.
Me: Let me ask you a question. When was the last time you went out on a date with your son?
Gentleman: (after a few seconds of what appeared to be deep thought) Honestly, I really don’t know.
Me: The answer you seek will be found as you reestablish a relationship with your boy. I’m sure you’ve attempted to talk to your son and motivate him in that manner, but without a deeper foundation, this won’t be possible. It’s time to rebuild the foundation that has somehow been lost over the years. If you commit to going on father/son dates with your boy for the next 6 weeks, I can promise you he will open up, he will start to talk, and he’ll do it on his time.
The only thing you’ll have to do is allow for the moment and listen when it comes.
With tears in his eyes, the gentleman shook my hand and thanked me profusely for the counsel. Moved almost beyond words, he committed to going on father/son dates with his son every week from that point forward and was visually overwhelmed as he left the room.
That night, I sat in my hotel room pondering the event. For whatever reason, this kind man had been touched with my words about business so much that he trusted me to guide him as a father. Even more uncanny, as I stated earlier, was the fact that the answer was something I didn’t have to think about—it was simply there.
I’m nothing special folks. I’m an imperfect man with a wife and four children. I go to church on Sundays and try my best to give life everything I have.
Sometimes I succeed.
Sometimes I fail.
But I can tell you with a surety that on that particular day, as I looked into that man’s eyes, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt it was no accident he stood in front of me with that question. It was also no accident the words he needed to hear were being delivered by a “pool-guy turned marketing-guy.”
Such is the way life works my friends. We can’t always understand it. It certainly doesn’t always make sense.
But there is something much greater and deeper going on here than any of us can possibly understand.
I’m grateful for 2012. It has taught me much. I have grown personally and professionally. But more than anything, I know there will be many more moments in my future where fate collides with intention and I’ll be given the opportunity to be an instrument in the hands of a higher power to do the work of good.
At least, this is my great desire, and I hope you’ll take the journey with me.
If you feel so inclined, I’d love to know of any great accomplishment or moment that you’re proud of from 2012. What did you learn? What are you planning as you look ahead?