Should we help others for their sake, or for our own sake?
Jack Welch in his famous autobiographical book, ‘Straight from the Gut’ recalls an interesting incident on how he learned to play Golf effectively, and even win minor tournaments.
He says, that he was struggling with the game for quite some time. But after a while, his wife too wanted to play the game and she asked him to tutor her. He agreed and started teaching her.
While teaching his wife, he noticed few mistakes she was making and was suggesting techniques to correct them. What he also noticed was that, he too was making the same mistakes!
He says that he noticed things about himself (by teaching his wife) that he wasn’t able to, all the while when he was playing alone. He used that knowledge to perfect his own game and with some practice went on to win a few small tournaments!
Verghese Kurien started out helping farmers and their cooperative movement as an engineer who had some knowledge with technical machinery, but then went on to create the biggest cooperative in India – Amul.
In my own job, when we were positioning a network solution to a big (new) probable customer in Tamil Nadu, they asked us if a similar survey/solution could also be positioned in their Gujarat establishment. Normally in such situations, the organizational culture is to not help other state colleagues, as there is always competition between the various states.
Irrespective of what people thought, I went ahead and gave the lead to my Gujarat counterpart who started working on it. As it turned out, this became an important factor in us winning the deal because the senior management of this company was in Gujarat and our joint bidding was seen as a huge plus.
Have you noticed it? When we help others, we gain both insight and skills. Insight into a process that we would have never otherwise had, and skills that could help us do our own jobs better.
Any experience is good experience, and even a professional learns a lot by just attempting to help an amateur or teaching them. The simple questions that they ask about a topic that we think we have mastered, will completely blow our minds away and enable us to think in certain angles that we never considered before!
Of course, we make some good friends in the process.
The unfortunate trend in work places and even educational institutions to suppress what we know, and laughing at people who help others prompted me to write this post. Of course, giving money to others is not helping them – At best, its spoiling them.
What do you think of this topic? Have you come across an experience where you started helping some one and you gained as much as that person did?