Life: What does it mean to help people?

Here’s something to think about: What does it mean to help people? What makes you helpful?

True story: This guy once Googled a few workout videos and sent those links via email to a few of us, and in that email he wrote, “Everyone, here’s the October workout schedule for you all. Let’s all follow this for a whole month!” I replied saying I wasn’t interested in it, that I was okay with how I was and wouldn’t be following that schedule. His response? Something along the lines of, “I’m trying to help you and you don’t want to accept. I don’t care anymore because you act as though you’re 100% satisfied with your life.” [He also took a few more personal shots, saying things like, “When people don’t need my help, I just move on and go help others who need me. Not going to waste time (with you).”]

helpJust because I stated I was okay with my daily routine, the guy interpreted it as me saying I was completely happy with my life, which isn’t the same thing, but I digress. He also used the words “I don’t care,” which people seem to throw around and use very, very loosely. I mean, he considered “help” as giving one-size-fits-all “solutions” to a group of people, as though each person’s situation is exactly the same and would benefit from the exact same “solution.” This isn’t a multiple-choice test or a short-answer quiz, or a math problem, where everyone arrives at the same answer from what the teacher gives you! This is real life, and sure, the guy was kind enough to share those videos, but then to turn around and act all insulted when I didn’t want to participate, was a bit over the top. Saying things like “I don’t care anymore” and turning hostile were simply unnecessary. You’ve got to understand your “audience,” so to speak, if you want to “help” them. Giving a bunch of tough workout exercises to people ranging from fitness freaks (some of the others) to beginners (myself) and expecting all parties to benefit from the exact same schedule, was presumptuous (not to mention unrealistic). Sure, offer them as a suggested schedule, but don’t shove them down people’s throats. And certainly don’t get all pissed off when one person politely declines.

I think the key is to not shove something down people’s throats. Of course, don’t act all insulted as well when your suggestions are not well received. The proper attitude is, “Hey, if one person – just one person – can benefit from what I told them, then I’ve done my job.” If you want to help people, THAT’s the attitude to have.

Recently, I travelled from Vancouver, Canada, to Dayton, Ohio, because I was invited to speak to a class of engineering students at the University of Dayton. I was asked to share my experiences about a specific topic which could be helpful to the students. I approached the lecture the same way: “These are my experiences, and what I went through personally. If what I say could help just one person, then I’m glad to have helped that individual through my words. I’m certainly not going to shove my ideas down people’s throats and expect them all to follow what I tell them. My experiences, my words, etc., might be helpful to some and irrelevant to others. That’s reality. Just aim to have at least one person benefit from what I tell them. That would make me very happy and proud.”

Simple. That’s genuine help. It’s not about converting people or shoving ideas at people. It’s about detailing solutions that have helped me in my life and sharing them.

Other people will consider those who alert them about sales at high-end stores, etc., as “helpful” human beings. Hey, so-and-so was so kind to tell me that this [insert name of expensive brand] handbag was on sale. So-and-so is so wonderful and “helpful”! Yay! So-and-so gave me a coupon for Domino’s pizza that entitles me to eat at one of their locations at such-and-such a percent off! So “helpful”! Uhm. No. I couldn’t disagree more. But then again, that’s my personal opinion and I wouldn’t shove it down your throat either.


Posted on December 17, 2014, in Advice, Lessons Learned, Life. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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