How many times have you found yourself in a situation where people ask you to help them to do something and you end up doing it for them?
It might be something as straight forward as swapping the toner in the copier, changing a light bulb or perhaps tying the shoes laces of a six-year-old?
One might argue there are occasions when people genuinely can’t do something for themselves and they need help. This may be the situation in certain cases. Especially with a toddler who is still too young to be able to tie their laces. Yet, I think you will agree there comes a time when we would normally encourage a person and particularly a child to do it themselves.
I also believe there are many times when we decide that “it’s quicker if I do it myself”. It’s a habit many of us can get into, particularly when we are living a busy life.
As much as we think we are being helpful, most of the time we are doing both people a dis-favour.
When we consistently carry out a task for the other person, we find ourselves in a never-ending cycle doing the same thing over and over again. Sometimes resentment can build up on our part, where we get a warped sense of reality and we think “why can’t they do it themselves?”.
The irony is that we keep saying “YES”. We are really enabling their behaviour and sending them a message that we will do it for them. This is unhelpful and more importantly, the other person doesn’t learn or grow.
There is an old proverb that says…
“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime”.
This saying demonstrates the importance of teaching another individual how to do something instead of simply doing it for them. By showing the person how to carry out a task, they acquire life-long skills enabling them to become a lot more self-sufficient. So, the long-term gains outweigh the short-term ones.
Take for example, the unfortunate circumstance of someone who falls on hard times and ends up begging on the street. Whilst it is kind to give them food, money or water – they only get the benefit of your help for a day or two. Yet, if we can teach them a new skill or even a trade, it opens up an opportunity for them to change their life for the better.
In essence, teaching people to learn valuable skills is a particularly important gift and should never be underestimated. It gives me great pride to see people gain so much confidence and are empowered to become independent. Sometimes they may even develop a greater sense of curiosity and strive to follow a path of continuous improvement and learning. And that my friend is why I work in training.