When I was younger, so much younger than today,
I never needed anybody’s help in any way.
But now these days are gone, I’m not so self-assured,
Now I find I’ve changed my mind and opened up the doors.
– The Beatles
Do you help when you can?
Not just your family or your team or when someone asks
But when you look up and see someone headed toward the same mistake you’ve already made or headed into some danger you’ve seen before do you speak up and help?
If someone were to you offer unsolicited help, are you prepared to hear them?
A Story That May Help
I was running through the woods on a beautiful Fall day. I passed a woman walking from the other direction. I smiled and she nodded, but she looked at me with a funny expression. I ran on a bit further straight into a scary situation. A strong and frenetic man was screaming obscenities and intensely thrashing around a very large stick. He was clearly stronger and crazier than me, so I quickly turned around and picked up the pace.
The woman I had passed earlier saw me coming back and said “yeah, I thought that guy was pretty dangerous. I thought about warning you.” I wish now I had asked her the obvious question.
As I ran on, I passed another young woman wearing headphones, headed toward the same sticky situation. I stopped her, and gave her the warning. She looked at me like I was crazy, put her headphones back on, and just kept running toward the man with the big stick. Hmmm, maybe that’s the reaction the first woman was worried about.
Perhaps the situation was truly dangerous, and perhaps it was not. I will never know. What struck me most was that there was an opportunity for the 3 woman in this story to warn and help one another if they were willing and open.
Could We Help One Another More?
I see similar behaviors in organizations. The sense of internal “competition” surpasses collaboration between individuals or workgroups. Or for some reason, people just don’t help when.
- best practices are carefully guarded
- mistakes are kept quiet
- data is withheld
- warning signs are not shared
- key learnings are held close to the vest
- people think it’s “none of their business”
On flip side, I see people working alone when there are people all around who would be willing to help if only they asked by…
- seeking out advice
- looking sideways for what’s working
- sharing best practices
- collaborating and learning