Monday, November 15, 2010

A Few Thoughts On Saving The World

Last week I had to let someone know they weren't getting a specific job, something I have to do on a regular basis. This person is someone that I like and I wanted to help out. I offered to spend some one on one time with this person to discus his job search and he accepted that offer for help.

We scheduled a time to speak at my office on Friday morning at 8:30 a.m. I showed up on Friday right on time and waited for Mr. Job Seeker to come along. He was a no show. It wasn't a complete waste, I got in a good 30 minutes of World of Warcraft (WoW) hacking and slashing while I waited. Later that morning I received an email that he had gotten a last minute job interview that morning, and asked if we could reschedule for Monday at the same time.

This morning comes around. Same routine - arrive on time, no show, 30 minutes of WoW. I'm not mad or annoyed, I've got better things to do than feel that way - like write a blog post - but it did get me thinking about how I spend my time.

Helping people is a compulsion for me. I think I'm finally learning how to help people in focused & effective ways. While this the following list is by no means complete, it's a tidbit of what I've learned (and try to practice):
  • As a general rule, only offer help to people that ask for it. Just because you think someone can use help doesn't mean they need or want it.

  • When someone needs help in the moment and might not think to ask for it, such as walking around with an open zipper, it's appropriate to discretely say, "XZY."

  • If you aren't qualified to help someone, let them know you don't feel you are the best fit. If they still want your help, feel free to commit a small dose of time to see if you can point them in the right direction. They may only really need someone to bounce ideas off of.

  • Keep an open mind. When someone on the street asks me for help, I try to listen. 9 out of 10 times they want money and I've become efficient at rejecting that request. However, I get surprised. Yesterday a guy asked me for help, and it turned out all he needed was help getting up from the steps he was sitting on; it was a classic case of I've fallen and I can't get up!

  • Don't give what you can't afford to lose. You're no good to anyone if you can't take care of yourself.

  • Help because you want to, not because you have to.

  • Focus on input and output. If you give someone X, how will it help them?

  • Don't be afraid to lose a little bit. You'll become a more effective giver if you make mistakes in allocating your assistance and learn from the experiences.

TL;DR - Practice helping people and get better at it. The world needs more effective, generous people.

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