Wow. I am so touched right now. I looked at my blog (Conscious Leaders Blog) and saw that I had 71 followers! 71! How did that happen, seemingly overnight? Now, ‘71’, you might say, ‘that’s not very many – I have 1 million’; but for me, 71 is significant and it was a touching surprise this evening.
And so as part celebration, part thanks to you, I thought I’d tell you about the follow up to the story of the Sunninghill Guest Lodge, Conscious Business. It’s a heartwarming one that shows just how conscious businesses can have a spontaneous positive impact on the community around them and increase the feelgood factor.
Ann-Magret, at the Sunninghill Guest Lodge, tells me that she has a cleaner who has worked for her for eight years. This cleaner is rather shy and doesn’t have much education, but she cleans like a dream and has a heart of gold. Last year she found out that she was pregnant with her third child. She was devastated because her husband is not permanently employed and things were tough enough as it is. After a difficult pregnancy she gave birth to a sickly baby girl and spent much of her time carrying the baby backwards and forwards to clinics and hospitals. She was told there was a problem with the baby’s heart, but that she could only see the cardiologist in 11 months’ time at the general hospital.
Ann-Magret decided to take the little girl to her personal doctor since the baby was very sick and they were afraid she would not last until the appointment at the general hospital. Now, says, Ann-Magret, is where the part about serving the community comes in. At her local private hospital there is large paediatric cardiology department which sponsors many heart operations for children and which really does incredible work. On many occasions when Ann-Magret had empty rooms at the Lodge, she would give these rooms to the hospital staff free of charge or for a small fee. From a business point of view, she says, the rooms were empty and she wasn’t losing any income, plus she believes it to be a very effective way of advertising. So, over the years, she has established relationships with the department at the hospital.
Ann-Magret made the call to them, expecting many days of waiting for a doctor to see the little girl. However, the very next day she got an appointment with one of the world’s (not just South Africa’s, but the world’s) top paediatric heart surgeons. This amazing man, she says, spent 45 minutes with them and confirmed the need for the little girl to undergo a heart operation. This was a big blow, since the costs involved were prohibitive – but the very next day the finances were arranged! A big hotel group sponsored the hundreds of thousands of South African Rands for the procedure.
And here is the best part of the story, says Ann-Magret. The cleaner’s husband is a simple, old-fashioned, humble man who works in harsh environments when he can find employment. She very much doubts whether anyone has ever paid him much respect or time for that matter. For him to come into a world-class hospital, where there are no queues and no waiting lists, and to be treated with respect and dignity by incredible doctors was an event that changed his life. In addition to the fact that these doctors will save his daughter’s life, in a strange way it has empowered her father too. He was, says Ann-Magret, “totally blown away that perfect strangers could care so much for his little girl, a little girl that was really very much unwanted, and now look at all this…”
So here’s to the Sunninghill Guest Lodge. If it wasn’t for Ann-Magret’s care for her staff above and beyond their job output, and for her care and generosity towards the community in which the business exists, then this little story which touched my heart, and I’m sure touched yours, would not have happened.
It’s the small, individual actions like this that matter, that collectively add up to not only a great, meaningful and profitable way of doing business, but a way in which even those tangentially connected to a business can benefit and that we can all feel thankful for.