I only met Dolores once but she’s been part of our lives for a long time.
The Mom of one of my wife’s friends, Dolores met my son Henry when he was a toddler and instantly felt a connection with him. Henry doesn’t speak using his voice yet manages to be remarkably charismatic so I wasn’t shocked that Dolores fell for his charms.
Whenever she would fly to New York from San Diego in order to visit her daughter, Dolores would always make it a point to come and visit Henry, often going out of her way or delaying other plans to do so.
Between these infrequent trips, Dolores stayed in touch with Henry by making him a member of the Crispy Club.
Wherever Dolores would come across a seemingly-brand-new two-dollar bill or a pristine five or a few uncirculated singles she would put them in a card and send them to a member of the Crispy Club along with a note asking about school coming up in the Fall or if they’ve managed to go swimming that Summer or encouraging them to buy something small for themselves with the three crispy dollar bills she just sent them.
In exchange we would send Dolores a wallet-sized photo of Henry from that year’s school photos or a card showing off how his handwriting was coming along or a small piece of artwork that he had made.
For those men out there who are yet to have children let me fill you in on a secret: having kids makes you Charmin soft. The slightest moment of sentimentality has you wondering if someone is cutting onions nearby because, inexplicably, these wet drops are suddenly falling from your eyeballs.
These exchanges between Henry and Dolores felt like something from another, more innocent time. Like we were living in “The Goonies” or a Spielberg movie.
It’s also a beautiful example of meeting someone where they are.
If Dolores would have sent Henry the crisp bills along with some practical investment advice it would have a) sailed over his head and b) changed the entire intent and the innocence of the relationship.
Meeting someone where they are is an important aspect of any relationship and fitness is no exception. It’s actually a primary philosophical tenet of our training system.
Rather than doing a formalized fitness assessment or starting you off with super complex lifts so we can impress upon you how “advanced” we are, we welcome every new member into our community by actually making them feel like they are part of a community. Performing the same workouts as everyone else with perhaps some additional explanation and coaching on technique and a very conservative weight selection.
While many of us have big aspirations when it comes to our fitness goals, starting at an appropriate level is critical to keeping you safe and is, ultimately, the fastest way to making progress – even if it doesn’t feel that way at the time.
Meeting you where you are is an idea that we took directly from the social work model. I’d imagine Dolores came to the idea way more instinctually. Some people just have a knack.
But the bigger lesson I’ve taken from the Crispy Club is that little acts of kindness, how you connect with people and make them feel is waaaaaaayyyy underrated when it comes to every relationship – whether personal, in business, at your local grocery store or any other aspect of your life.
Having a coach take those extra few minutes to listen to you when you’ve had a bad day or your training partner saying just the right thing to motivate you prior to your 2k row time test is something that you will remember and value long after you forget what your times, weights and workouts even were.
These are the moments, experiences, connections and random acts that we are constantly striving for. And I learned a lot about them from this simple, kind act by Dolores.
Whenever we’d go for what seemed an unusually large stretch of time without a Crispy Club card from Dolores, we’d worry that something had happened to her. She was an elderly woman, after all. But, invariably, a week or two later a card would show up with Henry’s name on it in our mailbox.
So when we hadn’t heard from Dolores in a while we didn’t really think about it this time around. Until we got a text from her daughter this weekend that she was heading to San Diego. Dolores had passed away.
It’s strange to feel so impacted by someone I’ve barely met, but I do.
Whether you decide to send a little kid a card with a few singles in it or share someone’s accomplishments on social media because you are proud of them or give someone a few words of encouragement when they could use them most, I highly recommend you take a page out of Dolores’s book and perform a few random acts of kindness for loved ones, newly found friends and strangers alike.
Life is about making an impact. This is one of the greatest ways to do so.
The feelings will remain.
Even after you’ve gone.