Bless and thank the navigators who show up when you are trying to find your way through unfamiliar terrain and don’t have the time or patience to track down answers yourself.
I first heard about the idea of navigators a decade ago as a way to help patients find the care they need within a complicated healthcare system. In the past few weeks, I have encountered several navigators as I try to assist my aging and sick father. I met a few among his medical care providers, and perhaps more surprising, in several insurance billing departments. Too few people have this gift of navigation, or if they do want to help, they are trapped in circumstances or regulations that prevent it.
Navigators show up in our lives in many other places. They may be less heralded than mentors but they are just as important. They might be people who exemplify great customer service and make sure you really do find the right solution that fits your needs. They could be professional colleagues who have had similar experiences and give you an hour of advice and coaching over coffee. They might be your financial advisor or lawyer who stresses the relationship in business relationship. Sometimes they are just friends who took that trip you want to take or made that purchase you need to make.
What are the qualities of good navigators? They are good listeners with the ability to simplify advice and options. They are efficient in offering solutions and helping you get on with your day with one less thing on your mind. In the midst of changes that are emotionally or mentally challenging, they lift one burden to lighten your load. And while it’s probably customer service 101, I love it when a navigator asks is there anything else I can help you with today. It’s a friendly closing that signals the door will be open to future assistance. Navigators often don’t seek or need to create a lasting relationship. Yet in that moment when you need one most, a navigator makes the human connection.
Our increasingly complicated world needs more navigators. As I pause to thank the ones who helped me recently, I ponder how many opportunities I’ve surely missed to practice this gracious act of human connection and care.