I once met a friend of a friend in Belgium who was very excited about going to India. He had a lot of questions about the people, the culture, what to do, what not to do and this brought me to the important question of why he was going to India?

He explained that the work of his entire department in Belgium was getting outsourced to India. And before I could ask the uncomfortable question, he explained that he also would be losing his job to someone in India. He was going to train the entire department to ensure that there would be a smooth transition and work wouldn’t get interrupted. He mentioned that he was not the first choice, but rather the fourth person who was asked. Obviously not many people were interested in going to a new country to train people who were taking away their jobs.

Me: How do you feel about going to India?

Belgian Saint Man: I’m actually really excited about the experience. I think it’s going to be interesting.

Me: and….what about your job?

Belgian Saint Man: (smiling) Someone in India will have it soon.

Me: Aren’t you angry with the people who will take over your jobs?

Belgian Saint Man: They didn’t make the choice. My company made the choice. It was a business decision, not a personal one. They’re doing their job and I’m doing mine. If I don’t pass on this learning, a lot of the experience that we’ve gained over time will be lost and I cannot let that happen.

Me: (Speechless. At this point I had a new revelation of what speechless actually meant)

Here was a man who was willing to catapult out of his comfort zone to train people who would inadvertently cause him to lose his job. His loyalty to his work went beyond a job-description, beyond expectations, beyond his job itself. It was a mad mixture of irony and inspiration.

I stored this wonderful story in my inspiration box wondering if I would ever have the chance to be half the person he was.

And a few years later, an opportunity did come up. A client of ours who had knocked on our doors for every creative requirement, informed me that they needed a large number of the files we had with us to be moved to an in-house designer. While it was not clearly indicated at the point, I assumed that our work would be moved to the in-house design team. I was pretty disappointed about losing the business of this client with whom we had established a great working relationship and created a vast body of work. But I remembered ‘Belgian Saint Man’ and got a faint sense of how he must have felt, giving up his work and transferring it to someone else. When the job was done, I received an email thanking me for helping with the transition.

A month later, we got a call from the same client to log in some new work. After a little chat I learned that only changes and iterations to our designs would be handled by the internal designer. Purplemango would continue to be their design partner.

While our story ended with a happily ever after, I often think of that wonderful person in Belgium. Wherever he is I’m sure he has managed to use his position to create a wonderful experience for the people he works with.