I have always loved sharing resources. If I learn something, I want to tell everyone what I learned if I think it will help them. If I find out that a treatment they are considering lists a contraindication, I want to make them aware of it. If find out that there is a natural remedy for something that their allopathic medicine is causing adverse side effects, I want to tell them what it is, how much it costs, who sells the same thing for less money, and where they can buy it.
If they need a doctor, lawyer, accountant, wellness center, daycare center, social organization, training and development programs, mental health centers, interests and aptitude tests, etc., the chances are I know of something or someone or an organization that I can have you contact in many places around the world.
And this I used to do willingly and with gratification when people got the help they needed.
Notice I used the past tense. I used to do this willingly.
But something has definitely changed that has made me pull back and not be so forthcoming about sharing my resources and I can even trace its origins.
I had a brilliant friend. We went to school together, took some of the same classes together, and were involved in each other’s personal lives. She graduated from college magna cum laude and went on to become a teacher and after a few years, she went back to school to become an attorney. She was a free-spirit and one of the most interesting friends I had.
Throughout the years, we kept in touch, visited each other even after I moved halfway across the country, and no matter how long we had been out of touch, when we got together, we were amazed that we were always involved in the same interests and the same studies without ever having spoken of them.
During those years, I had a client who was probably the best child psychologist in her state. She covered all the schools, specializing in special education, and was well known for her work with special needs children. Her evaluations were one of a kind; she left no stone unturned and she was the strongest advocate for these children.
One day she called me and told me about one of her children being put in the middle of a contentious lawsuit. She didn’t know an attorney who could represent the welfare of this child with the preparation of the case and the delicacy that was required. And there I was, wanting to share my resources with her.
My friend had won a difficult landmark case that involved her setting a legal precedent and her name was now in the law books. So who better to refer my client to than my friend?
Hindsight has remarkable 20/20 vision and, in hindsight, I should have realized that my friend’s “free-spiritedness” that was so refreshing for me, would not pair well with my client’s perfectionist nature, especially when it involved her special needs students.
My client kept calling my friend to try to get her to discuss the case and go over her research; she wanted to be part of the process in preparing the case. My friend kept assuring her that she had everything under control and not to worry about it. Since I had spoken so highly of my friend, my client took a deep breath and tried not to worry about this case.
The day it went to court, my client and my friend met for the first time outside the courthouse and my client realized within minutes of meeting her that she had not prepared the case; she was walking into the courtroom without a shred of preparation.
My client had never lost a case for her special needs students before that day. In all the years she held her position in the school system, this was the first time she had to face the parents of a child and apologize for failing their child.
Remarkably, I didn’t lose my client but I did lose my friend. My client stayed with me for the next couple of decades but my friend never called me after that day and we had been friends for thirty years.
That was a deep learning experience for me. Since then, I have never referred a friend to a client nor a client to a friend. This is something I profoundly regret because my friends and my clients are my most treasured resources. They could truly help each other, all things considered, but I would never take that chance again.
I even find myself backing away from recommending other resources which, in the past, I would have shared willingly. Instead of recommending a specific doctor or lawyer, I now tell people to get in touch with their county medical association or their county bar association for referrals. A far cry from what I used to do.
There are so many other resources that I used to share. I’m not particularly afraid of lawsuits even though we have become a litigious society but I am apprehensive about my friends and my clients having bad experiences due to my recommendations.
So, now I sit with mental lists of all the resources of all the things throughout the world that could help people but most of them go unspoken. Experience is a painful teacher.