February 10, 2019

Whatever happened to Alfie?

He was different somehow. I couldn’t quite put my finger on why.

I knew him as a humble Senior Administrator in a financial planning support team.
Alfie, the cheeky, chirpy, Saturday-Night-Alright chappie; living for the weekend.

But this time, as I slid into his nippy black BMW, I looked and saw somebody different.
Calmer. a strong assurance behind that smile.

I must have stared too hard.
Because soon he was telling me the story.

He and two buddies had ‘done’ America: 28 States in just 12 weeks.

But it was South America that stuck in his memory… searing his mind, and piercing his heart.
It was that gold and silver mine in Bolivia.

It took a mere £3 sterling to persuade a shift supervisor to let them join the men down in the mine.
Just a couple of hours, you understand.
Yet another American adventure.

What he wasn’t prepared for was what they faced in the deep, black belly of the earth.

Here, in this dark hellhole, men were smiling and greeting them warmly.
The smiles made possible by chewing coca to stave off hunger, thirst, pain and fatigue for a few precious hours.

Here father and son hacked out survival, choking on the hot, gaseous air.

Here Health and Safety meant poor health, and precious little safety.

Here, existence beyond the age of 45 was a cause for celebration.

The joking between the buddies stopped.
They were able to tolerate just 3 hours, crawling on their hands and knees. Shivering and soaked.

They had to get out. They had to get out. They had to get out!

At the surface, they violently sucked in clean air once more.
They didn’t immediately say much to each other. They didn’t need to.

Alfie aged a full decade in those 3 hours.

Back home, Alfie would never again look at his life of privilege, opportunity and luxury in the same way.

Work became more than a ticket to fill himself – with whatever – in the weekend.

The week became an opportunity to fulfil and serve: to do something with meaning, purpose and contribution.

He became an inspiration and role model to the team.
He progressed quickly to Paraplanner, Senior Paraplanner, Junior Adviser.
And then Chartered Financial Planner.

He has even helped launch a  new Financial Planning brand.

This is the second time in just a few weeks that I’ve shared a “Wake Up” story.

I do it because well-rewarded routine can be such a smothering thing.

I believe many of us are called to do a Greater Work than we’re currently attempting.
The challenge (I’ve found in my life) is that Greater Work comes with a need for us to change.

There are times when I’ve stumbled over a Great Possibility.
But I’ve picked myself up, and hurried off as if nothing had happened.

Other times – like this year – I’ve dived into the uncertainty.
And felt my whole being charged with new life and capability.

I wonder what Greater Work is calling you?
And are you listening?