There’s no doubt in my mind that everyone, and I mean everyone, struggles with daily challenges. I don’t care who you are, what you do, how much money you make, or how talented you are…there is something going on every day that is incredibly challenging. Guess what? Typically, other people around you could help conquer that problem. Are you too afraid to ask? On the other hand, are you too afraid to lend a hand?
It goes both ways. When I think of my family, friends, coworkers, and even people that I haven’t even met yet…I know that in some way I can help them. Maybe I can’t do something for all of them, all of the time. Small things such as helping people move, cleaning up the neighborhood, volunteering time for a cause or idea, mentoring people professionally, raising money for a cause, help teach a class or lead a Cub Scout pack, or just giving someone advice or consul when things are not going so smoothly. All of these things made me feel great afterwards.
I’ve also received help too. Hundreds of fantastic people have been there for me and offered advice or trained me in a new skill. They’ve been there when the days are darkest and I’m confused and discouraged. I’ve learned a lot from those quiet conversations you have with people you love. Sometimes a five minute phone call can make all the difference when the right words are said.
When I think back on the crazy chain of events on my life and start connecting the dots, I realize that there is a common golden thread. If I didn’t help this particular person, volunteer for a certain project, get involved with that cause or group, start talking and helping others in my industry, sit in on a roundtable discussion at a tradeshow and listen, start teaching that one class…then my life wouldn’t be where it is today. A good many of the great things that are going on for me currently, all began with a small action I took years ago.
It all started with helping someone else solve a problem.
So when we sit there, heads down, nose in our cell phones, are we capable as a society of recognizing the struggles of other people? Think about your coworkers, friends, neighbors, or just anyone that you meet normally throughout your day. What are they struggling with that you could instantly solve because you have the skill or means to do so? Wouldn’t that small effort push the needle a little bit forward? What are you involved in right now that could benefit someone else? Are they too proud to ask for help? Are you too busy to notice?
The reason I’m asking is that thirty years from now you could maybe look back on that as the pivotal thing that changed the direction of your life. All you have to do is stick out your hand and say “Hey, let me help you with that” or “I can show you how this works”.
Here is a list of some things you might consider:
- You know how to do stuff. Other people don’t. Teach a class or mentor them and spread some knowledge.
- Volunteer your time. How many groups out there just don’t have enough people involved? Find one and go!
- Raise money for a non-profit. It doesn’t have to be thousands of dollars. Everything helps.
- Spend time with someone that needs it. As humans we crave interaction. Talking on the phone doesn’t count.
- Share your resources. Maybe you have extras of something. Do you need to horde them? Let go.
- Help train someone. You have skills that matter. Others don’t. Help someone get a leg up.
- Give gifts. Do we have to wait until there’s a disaster to provide for others?
- Add to your interest. For example, maybe you like to read and you can volunteer at the library.
- Is someone doing something that should be noticed? Say Thank You in a public way.
- Just be nice. You might make someone’s day just be holding the door open or picking up a box.