The Butterfly Effect – Part 2 by Kim Bendall

As 2022 gets underway, Kim Bendall, Director and Founder of Go Paraplanning Ltd, reminds us of the happiness that comes with being able to empower others, as she shares the influences that led to her earlier post, The Butterfly Effect.

It’s incredible to me that we, as a profession, largely still undervalue the power of what we do (or more relevantly, are able to do). I’m not talking about money, and what we charge for our services, but the empowerment that we offer to others – the way we help them unfold their lives and make sense of who they are, what they do, and the choices they make.

That’s properly amazing.

We spend all of our time just going about our business, getting the job done, and hopefully somewhere along the way a client or colleague will tell you that they appreciated what you did, or the advice you gave them, and that it made a difference.

The thing is, because what we do is so ‘normal’ for us, we take for granted the magic that we’re creating, day in, day out. Can you take a moment to sit back and really think about something awesome you did for someone recently, that’s likely to have set its own Butterfly Effect into motion?

How does that make you feel?

Doing the right thing and being a decent human being is a pretty addictive drug, isn’t it?

Finding inspiration

I was jolted into thinking about my own inspirations this morning when I received an email from a funeral parlour. The message reminded me that one of my mentors, and someone who I had great respect for, was laid to rest a year ago. He was taken well before his time after a short illness.

The email invited me to click on a link to review his obituary – which will be held in the endless memory banks of the internet forever – to remind me of the person that I bid farewell to a year ago.

The minute his picture popped up on the screen, grinning away at me in that slightly unhinged but mischievous way that he always did, I sobbed my heart out. They were happy tears, because it was lovely to see his face again after all this time. But they were also sad tears because I was reminded that I’ll never hear his voice or that infectious laugh for the rest of my life. Grief is a real rollercoaster like that.

The reason I’m sharing this with you is because shortly before he died I had conversations with him like none that we’d ever had before. I was going through major changes in my life and career at the time, and his wise – sometimes brutal – counsel still rings in my ears even now.

Over the years that I knew him, he gave me advice that helped me figure out the kind of financial planner I wanted to be; the kind of business I wanted to run; the kind of people with whom I should surround myself. We talked about when and how to say no; how to respect and value myself so that others would respect and value me too. Some of it I took with a pinch of salt, but a lot sunk in and made sense at the time.

One year on looking at his face grinning through the computer screen at me, I feel inordinately grateful to him. We didn’t know each other particularly well, and only met in person a handful of times, but this man changed my life. He changed the way I think. And I’m a better human being for the relatively brief time that we knew each other.

Paying it forward

Looking back, I had no idea at the time just how fundamental his words were. He was the right person, saying the right things, at the right time. Only now – a year on – have I finally realised that he was creating his own Butterfly Effect on me.

The weird thing is, that I’ve been unconsciously paying it forward ever since. The conversations we had at that time sparked a massive chain reaction of events that have led me to where I am now. It’s also led to other people taking action through the work I’ve done or the things I’ve said or written, and in turn that’s touched the lives of countless hundreds of other people. And that’s just the stuff that surrounds me. Think about all the things you’ve done, and that your colleagues, friends and family have accomplished either directly or indirectly because of you. It’s off the scale.

Humans really are remarkable when they want to be.

Essentially, what I’m saying is that actions have consequences. We tend to think of that saying in a negative way, but it’s powerful when we turn it around and think of it as [positive] actions have [positive] consequences. This is my new mantra, and a value I intend to live by for the rest of my life.

So do me a favour. Now, more than ever, we all need a bit of TLC. My request is simple: do one thing today that sets a positive action in motion. Tell someone how much they mean to you. Find a way to provide encouragement or support to someone that’s struggling. Share your gratitude with someone who has helped you. Offer wisdom and guidance to someone without prejudice and from the goodness of your heart. Or, if nothing else, spend some time thinking about someone who is no longer with us, and quietly thanking them for the time you had with them.

Do something amazing. Keep the legacy going.