Is your help helping?
I discovered this fabulously helpful question on the toilet wall of Superman’s mentor’s home. Toilet walls were my Mum’s education platform too! That’s how I learned all the world’s countries, their capital cities and flags.
Superman’s mentor, Tristan White, is the author of Culture is Everything and Founder of The Physio Co, named one of Asia’s best small and medium workplaces 2018. I LOVE that Tristan’s superpower is people and culture and in this case, that he takes his work home.
By sharing his business team’s relationship and values-based strategies with his home team (a.k.a. his family), he’s done what lots of us don’t do – he’s utilised a successful strategy across multiple contexts in his life. Too often we are totally winning with a strategy in one area of our life and we limit ourselves by keeping it there; silo-ed. A dang shame, considering it’s working for us and could create wonder and magic all over our life…if we let it.
Because I didn’t ask a clarifying question (dang it!) I can’t tell you if this magical strategy, of asking if your help is helping, didn’t actually begin at home with his wife and children? And having seen it work with them, maybe he decided to take it into work for a test drive?
The flexibility in where we apply this magical tool – of asking if your help is helping – is an amazing part of its life changing benefits. But that’s not the best part.
The best part about this tool is that it makes for less stress, calmer conversations and more harmonious, authentic relationships.
Have you ever asked anyone if your help is helping?
We are kind and caring, warm hearted little creatures (most of us, most of the time) and we naturally want to help folks, especially our loved ones, in their time of need. But is our help helping?
Superman is a gem.
He, like most loving men, wants nothing more than to see his other half happy. And when I’m not, when I am struggling with something, he is genuinely distressed. By far and away THE biggest driver of his distress is not my distress, but his lack of knowledge about what to do.
God LOVE him!
His default behaviour is to stand there, hands on hips, staring at me. Apparently he’s thinking?
This drives me absolutely mental!
Because when I have a problem, even if I don’t know what to do about it, I do something.
When I am struggling with something, Superman’s inaction is like throwing kero onto my already crackling fire.
When we’ve come off DEFCON 3, we’ve talked about this pattern we run.
I have told him his inaction doesn’t help, actually makes things worse.
Then he has told me he doesn’t act because he doesn’t know what to do.
So my answer to his question: Is my help helping? Is no.
And that IS helpful.
Now, because I know he’s frozen to the spot, on a hill-start clutch point between wanting to help and not knowing how to help, I soften toward him and the behaviour that I was previously seeing as inaction.
At peak DEFCON 3, I could tell him what help would help, but that’s not as effective as him asking what would help, or even choosing to do something, then asking: Is my help helping?
Because people doing a reaction to stress, very much including yours truly here, are most definitely NOT at their clear thinking and resourceful best are they?
And so when Superman chooses a way he thinks will help and gets cracking, we have a nice direction out of the conundrum and one that I didn’t have to devise with my less than trustworthy, stress-reacting limbic brain. And this creates a nice flow, away from the problem and toward solutions. Ahhhhh…….
All he need do then is ask the magic question: Is my help helping?
This is a nice calibration and anything is possible from here.
Because we’ve made a start down a more relaxing road, toward solutions and he’s calibrated his efforts with me, by asking: Is my help helping? We get where we’re going faster, calmer and kinder.
That makes a BIG difference.
Because then it’s Our team Vs. The Problem, instead of Us Vs. Us Vs. The Problem.
Give it a burl and let me know how you go.
I am always interested.
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