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I hold hands for a living.

I was holding my 91-year-old client’s hand last week, and it struck me: I hold hands for a living.

For reference, my client is a very able man. For the most part, he gets around – and even climbs the steep staircase in his home – on his own. He embodies a can-do spirit and a passion for life that I hope to have when I am his age. It is not often that he needs my help, but when he does, he grabs my hand, and I can feel it: the trust he has in me, told with his firm, grateful grasp. His hand tells me that what I have asked of him will be challenging, but that he believes he can do it as long as I am there with him.

Then I started noticing my other clients grabbing my hand – the once-shy girl conquering her first box jump, the woman pushing through her Parkinson’s symptoms, the young man turning my high-five into a triumphant squeeze. I noticed that I hold someone’s hand almost daily, and how much that connection fills me with a quiet gratitude. They hold my hand because they believe they can do what I ask of them, because they trust my belief in them. They hold my hand because I am asking them to be vulnerable, and they are willing to try.

When I became a trainer, I wanted to help others – to give them the confidence to ask more of themselves, and to see themselves in a new light. But I did not expect to get so much from them, to feel so honored to be in their lives. I imagined myself as a teacher, but I didn’t expect to learn so much.

I will no longer take lightly someone squeezing my hand. It is a gift they are giving me, and I will gladly squeeze back in thanks.