Help By Not Helping
October 19, 2022
Imagine a five-year-old having trouble tying their shoes.
What would your instinct be? You would want to help the child, right?
The instinct might be well placed, but it is preferable to control it. I learned this from experience.
Once, when my son was around five years old, he struggled to tie his shoes as he got ready to go to school. I offered to help. He reacted irritably, saying – I’ll do it myself.
I let my son struggle. He tried tying his shoelaces and failed. At which point he turned around respectfully and asked for my help-” dad, can you please help me with my shoe laces”
There is a powerful leadership lesson here. You can only help someone if they are willing and asking for it. Until then, it is best to let them try and learn on their own. If they need help, they will come to you.
If you are a parent, manager, or leader, you often suffer the burden of knowledge and feel compelled to jump in and solve problems.
Sometimes, the best way to help is not to help. Instead, help only when you are asked.