At this time of year, we are surrounded by the spirit of giving and generosity. As a Professional Organizer, I have experienced that every day, with every client, we have the opportunity to both give and receive gifts of exceptional value.
We give our clients two things: our attention and our advice. However, when framed differently we can see these gifts for much more than this simple construction, and we can honor and recognize what is truly received through the giving—both by the client and ourselves.
What Do We Give
Reinterpreted, what we give to our clients, rather than attention and advice, are presence and awareness. Our presence in their lives is often the most valuable gift our clients receive. Our willingness to be with them through the process of change inherent in organizing, our ability to witness that process and to honor the effort it takes are of immense and unquantifiable value to our clients. They know how hard it was to try to make these changes alone and having a partner in the process is a tremendous gift.
Second our awareness of the organizing process, in other words, the path that they are choosing to walk, is frequently the asset that our clients were previously missing. In my opinion, many organizers focus too much time and energy on trying to be aware of all the newest organizing tools, gadgets, and solutions. These items are simply more “things” that may or may not really improve our clients’ lives. Our true expertise, our true gift, is our awareness of the steps involved in executing a powerful and result-filled organizing process and in compassionately teaching and guiding our clients through that process.
The two gifts above, presence and awareness, are the mechanisms for myriad gifts that our clients receive through our work… reading the testimonials from almost any organizer’s website you get a sense of the gratitude that our clients experience from our gifts. Relief, clarity, a sense of accomplishment, celebration of small victories, and an increased sense of peace are but a few of these received by our clients each day. What an honor to bring these experiences to our clients’ lives!
What Do We Receive
What truly astounds me, however, is my awareness of what I have received from my clients over the years.
I have been organizing with clients for over six years now, and as I get to a point in my career where I am beginning to explore new growth paths through teaching organizers, speaking, and writing, I have been spending a fair amount of time reflecting on how giving my presence and awareness to my clients has brought many gifts to my own life.
Until recently, there was limited access to training or educational opportunities for Professional Organizers. Therefore, as all organizers discover, the wealth of “on-the-job training” that each client encounter offered me was tremendous and allowed me to develop myself professionally and bring a better experience to each client that followed.
Second, without question I share my clients’ joy in the sense of accomplishment that comes at the end of good work… that clear floor, that beautiful new filing system, whatever it may be. It still brings me a sense of joy.
Insight into my own life and personal values has been a third major gift received through my work with clients. As each client struggled to establish personal criteria for what was valued and important in his or her life, I had an opportunity to reflect on my own responses and clarify the values that guide my own choices, whether or not I chose to offer such reflections to my client in that moment. As I have discovered, to quote Senator Jean Carnahan, “only what we hold in our hearts endures.” My memories and insights are my items of greatest value and my increasing detachment from physical items has been a beautiful gift received from being part of my clients’ lives.
Finally, and undeniably the greatest gift I have received from my clients is their trust. We witness and frequently enter the most personal and deepest parts of their lives, offices, and homes. We see it all, and we hear the truths and the fears – often as much or more than many of their friends, family, or even some therapists… It is a phenomenal trust to hold and witness these pieces of another’s life and soul, and I am constantly both honored and humbled.
In my heart, I know that in the past six years I have received far more than I gave to the clients I served, and at this time of year when we honor both giving and giving thanks I wanted to share with you, my clients, my colleagues, and friends both my insights and immense gratitude for these opportunities in my life. I hope that you will take the chance to reflect on your own life and recognize the truth that the giver always receives more.