Taking Time to Help

Life is busy. There is always too much to do and not enough time to do it in. We plan for the things we want, but often life intervenes and we don’t end up doing things we’d like to do. One of the things that I see missing too often is the time we are willing to take to help another person out. We spend our time on things we feel we have to do, but taking time for others can fall by the wayside.

There are many struggling people in our culture right now. Most of us have not been taught how to get ourselves unstuck when things don’t go our way. We struggle trying to figure out what to do, and often the journey is taken alone. Recently I had a coaching client situation that reminded me of the importance of imparting this wisdom. I am working with a talented young man who needs to make a career change. He feels stuck and uncertain about what to do next. Most importantly, he feels confused about what options are available to him. We talked about reaching out to some of the contacts he has developed from his prior situations. He hadn’t really thought of this before, and found the idea appealing. When he reached out to these (very busy, very successful) people, he found they were extremely receptive to helping him and offering a guiding hand.

Oftentimes in my business I do things for people for no charge or close to no charge. My partners can fault me for this worrying about the “cost” of my time. I feel that giving of my time is a value in and of itself. Maybe I chalk it up to dharma, or something about the way the Universe works, but ultimately I feel it is the right thing to share my gifts with those less fortunate when I can do so.

We have to set limits, of course. If I gave away all of my time, my children would starve! But balancing giving away our time with the time we spend making our money is valuable in a number of ways. First of all, in teaching we learn. Every time I impart words of wisdom to someone else, I am either reminded of something important for myself or I learn something new to add to my repertoire. We make connections – the person you help today could very well be the person who helps you tomorrow. I was reminded of this recently on LinkedIn when someone from my past (almost two decades ago!) responded to a plea I posted for help. She said she was happy to do so and reminded me of something I’d done for her many, many years before. Of course I didn’t even remember what I had done – but she did. Giving is truly getting in return. We may not see it in money or riches, but we get something back in the good feeling of knowing we have helped another human being.

If you think about the people in your life, you might find that many of them haven’t asked for your help or perhaps simply don’t know how to do so. This doesn’t have to be a situation where someone is needy and you are bailing them out! This can be as simple as turning your full attention to another person and practicing active listening. It can be sending them an interesting article, or buying a book the person might be interested in. It can be responding, as my former colleague did, to a direct request for help.

This week, turn your attention to finding one person that you could offer some of your personal gifts to. Who could you support? Who could you lend an ear, some advice or some help to? Give of your gifts freely this week.