Every day is one step more towards my goal – be a coach and teach people from all over the world…
With no previous planning it became a very special coaching experience…. a Russian couple, Sergey & Maria who do not speak neither Spanish nor English (and of course not Hebrew), but the greatest challenge in this story is the fact that they are both deaf & mute.
They came for a visit at my dive centre and it turned to more than three hours of coaching session.
As a diving Instructor I can communicate with hand signs, yet I’m not familiar with deaf & mute signs… and believe me they can speak fast!
I’ve known Sergey for more than 10 years. He arrived to Spain from Ukraine 11 years ago, and I came from Israel around the same time. And during the years I tried to help him in any way I could.
For a living, every evening he goes to different restaurants, and offers the clients small souvenirs like lighters, plastic dolphins or other chinese toys with a small note saying that he is Deaf & mute. Few minutes later he would pass and collect the money or the items that are left on the table, with a smile on his face not showing his disappointment when people do not buy from him.
That’s how I met Sergey for the first time about 10 years ago. I can’t explain what it was exactly, but I saw something in his face. I felt something towards him, probably at the souls level.
Every time he entered restaurants where I was sitting, I gave him 5 or 10 Euros note “buying” from him different dolphins.
One day in June, a hot Spanish summer while I was driving from a neighbouring village in a distance of six km, I saw this guy walking the road down the hill; that same day at lunch time I saw him again. When the Dolphin guy (that’s how I called him) arrived to my table where I had my lunch. I signed him to join me and called the restaurant’s owner to bring a daily menu for him. Doing so, I could notice in some astonished faces of the other clients… I just didn’t care…
Some time after that event, Edna (who later became my wife) arrived to Spain and we were working together. During the high season at the dive centre, when we finished work late at night, we used to go out for a dinner. and in some occasions when I saw the Dolphin guy I invited him to join us.
People might think that with a deaf & mute person there is not much to talk… that is wrong. I used my note book and we were writing, drawing signs to each other, or I just used my imagination inventing hand signs… it worked well and we were changing information about each other…I learned that his name is Sergey and some other details about his life story and family… we didn’t talk politics or the last movies… they were more informative conversations.
Since then every time we saw Sergey in restaurants we went to with friends or on our own, he would come and spend a few minutes with us. I always gave him some money and he searched in his bag for something to give. Later on, he would look for some toys for Agam, my youngest daughter.
A few weeks ago, Edna and I were celebrating our wedding anniversary in one of our favourite restaurants, and we saw Sergey. Edna asked him to come to the diving centre to give him a jacket – almost new that I didn’t use.
Sergey came to the diving centre with his girlfriend Maria. He gave me signs of a keyboard, and pulled from his bag a laptop. We went to the classroom and plugged in his computer. He opened a translating program and signed Maria telling her what to write, she wrote it in Russian and for the first time I could read his words in English… wonders of technology.
He told me that he is facing hard times, there are less people who are willing to pay the money for the toys he sells, and that he is thinking of going back to Russia after 11 years he’s been living in Spain, not legal, without papers and not seening his family during all those years.
I wanted to help him so I put on my head the Consultant hat.
At the beginning Maria seemed to be more interested in the photos from Jack Cousteau’s underwater encyclopaedias that were on the table.
I followed my intuition, I felt that the Stick Person wouldn’t be the right start for our conversation that I might lose his attention. When I told him things the way I saw them, Sergey responded the way I thought he might, saying that he can’t talk or hear… adding to this his lack of education, he knows a little reading and writing. I still think that he is a great salesperson.
As Bob Proctor says: those who can continue walk and sell after so many times hearing the word “No” they are good salespersons. Sergey, even if he doesn’t have many options, hears the word NO (well sees people nodding) so many times yet he still keeps smiling.
Sergey have very strong persistence abilities, but he is missing other “Tools” like: self-confidence and believing in his own abilities. He accepted to enter in the “Mental frame” of his close family and what the environment told him, that missing those two senses did not leave him many options in life.
I tried to help Maria and Sergey build their self confidence, to believe that they can and should want more from their lives, without letting their disabilities control their lives. The lack of two senses has not affected their brain, and the lack of education is not a reason for not being able to do things… in my talking, I used examples like Henry Ford who had little education, Napoleon Hill who built in his son’s mind that being deaf is not a disability. I also showed them a short video how using different words can change the attitude.
I gave them some ideas how they can make a living, if and when they decide to return to Russia.
I wanted to build in their minds a new vision of making small steps that they won’t be able to accept, without frightening them. For example I told Maria she can make cookies and natural marmalades, and Sergey can sell the products in the local markets.
When I explained them their present way of thinking and their believes, followed by the new ideas I gave them. I felt that my ideas enter the right place, I could see tears in Maria’s eyes and small movements with her head like saying yes… I told Sergey that he needed to improve his life and be an example to his 19 years old son that was also born deaf and mute.
I don’t know and cannot be sure if what I said will make any change in their lives. Yet, I have a feeling that even if they’d make a small change, it could lead them to better life.
I’m aware that after so many years living with those believes, a one time talk is not enough… So I asked them to come again. The next time I think they will be more ready and open to hear about the Stick Person.
I liked the idea that Sergey copied the written text of my words, knowing that he would read it over again, a thing that would help him grasp the information better and deeper and to help him move forward in his life.