I’m learning the more ‘together’ people think you are, (surprise!) the more they want you to help them. Even though I don’t feel very together, I don’t mind. I’m a big fan of offering support, advice, or bear hugs when needed (especially if it involves actually hugging bears).
But being open to helping also means people WILL ask for help. And as the weeks progress, I find myself bombarded with e-mails, Facebook messages, texts, and phone calls.
Honestly, sometimes I’m terrified to see what requests await me. I’ll spend a good portion of some days just replying to various calls-to-action.
I try my best to figure out what I can do (if anything) to help the situations at hand. It can be downright exhausting. And sometimes even when I consent, commit, and deliver, appreciation is low.
But I do it anyway. And you should too.
Be helpful. And do it with as much gusto and energy as possible.
Because regardless of whatever make-believe competition we create for ourselves, the only sure thing is we will all be dead someday. And Jewel said it best. “In the end, only kindness matters.”
At one point in my life I didn’t realize how much TIME and EFFORT it took for someone to provide me with the information and help I wanted. I’ve inconvenienced A LOT of very nice people to help me get to this level. I still inconvenience people. It’s part of life. But it’s important I complete the circle.
I want to be the person remembered for being helpful and kind. I want to be the role model and mentor that shapes other role models and mentors. Our society needs that.
So let others get the best of you. But don’t let them take all of you.
The hard thing with managing commitment to community, support, favors, and ‘small requests’ is that they can EASILY turn into BIG time consuming projects. And if you aren’t careful, you’ll be left with no time or energy for yourself. So while it’s important to commit to your word, there’s a balance to ensure you don’t over-commit, even just in small favors.
So how do you determine what’s right for you?
There are no guarantees, but you can try using my method to determine what works for you.
1. Do the deeds you’re excited about.
You will feel the most return when you have your own philanthropic motivation. Have a hankering to feed the hungry? Want to read to underprivileged children? Travel to other countries to share smiles? Do it.
Those are typically the most recognizable and rewarding community-building experiences. The harder ones are the little requests generated on a day-to-day or weekly basis. Or, if you have an inbox like mine, hourly. And most likely, someone you don’t know will be approaching you about these favors. So make sure you…
2. Choose wisely when fulfilling favors not of your making.
Before agreeing ask:
How much time will this take?
Do you have the time to commit and give yourself fully?
Have you ever been in this person’s position? If so, do you wish someone would have thrown you a bone? Or was it better you learned on your own?
If you never EVER saw a return favor from this person, would you be satisfied you did this?
Is there someone else you know who would be a better match?
Would doing this favor take away from progressing your own life? Or just inconvenience you?
If, when analyzing your answers, it looks like all you’re sacrificing is time, it’s probably a good idea to contribute. Help someone else climb the ladder in a way you would want to be helped. But before you do…
3. Release expectations.
The worst feeling is expecting someone to provide a level of appreciation and not receiving it. If you can’t commit without feeling you should get something in return, don’t do it. Otherwise you will end up frustrated and potentially harboring anger towards said person. And that’s not fair. And recognize…
4. If you really just don’t want to do it, just say no.
Our time and love are the two most valuable things we can give someone. And if you can’t give them willingly, you shouldn’t. That’s not giving someone your best; that’s giving someone what you deem ‘just enough,’ and that’s debilitating to all parties.
Choose what you commit to wisely. Commit wholeheartedly. Walk away without expectations. And remember…
5. At SOME point you will need SOMEONE’S undivided attention and help at a time that is CERTAINLY inconvenient for them.
You will never know what they are sacrificing to give you that help. But you will still need it. And wouldn’t you want them to give their all?
Pass it on.