how far could you go to help?

Thinking about being helpful.

1. I got an email today about a post I wrote on Monday. I talked about making calendars. I gave a sample calendar page to play with. I asked for feedback.

Even as I was writing that post, I thought, “I’m assuming a lot of knowledge.”

And my friend wrote and said, “How do I do that?” What is second nature to me isn’t to him (and to 90% of you). In my rush to write a post, I didn’t think about actually helping people do what I was talking about.

2. I got another email today from another friend. He was asking a question in reply to an email I sent him.

As I looked at my original email, I thought, “This is the worst looking, most confusing email ever!” It led with an incredibly ambiguous question. It was followed with typos beyond belief.

Don’t believe me?



Was I offering a personal interview with Tim Keller? (No.) What was I asking, really?

In my rush to get out the email, I didn’t think about what a really busy person would need to know.

3. Nancy and I were talking about seminars and training sessions yesterday. She said, “do we ever change what we are doing because of them?” I think about all the seminars, all the traning, all the books, all the classes that I have taken, read, written or taught. And I’m not sure how to answer her question. Most of the time, we don’t change what we are doing because there isn’t any followup or follow through or accountability or encouragement. We don’t change because it’s too hard to work on the implementation and it is easier to take another seminar.

As I look at these three conversations, I realize again that it is not enough, as I have said before, to take the approach: when I have finished speaking I will have spoken (when I have finished asking I will have asked. When I have finished a post I will have posted.) That is a performance approach to communication rather than a helping people learn approach.

If it matters that you can make a calendar or listen to Tim Keller or have the tools to change how you think, then it matters that I do everything I can to help. And there is way more that I can do.

Even if it is as simple as proofreading my emails.


3 responses to “how far could you go to help?

  1. You are obviously a bright, caring, and inspired communicator.

    But I agree, we have to say things as we’d want to hear them.

    In fact, I’ve noticed something deeper, more complete, which I believe Jesus quietly intended to to effect us with use of the Golden Rule.
    And it does. Like a spiritual gift,
    it does for those who really become it.

    As we really practice hearing and feeling in the listeners moccasins,
    while we’re speaking, teaching, explaining, with the same mindset we have when we’re an eager, needy listener- we become Golden Rule communicators.
    When we slow down, and care more for the mind and spirit receiving, than our ‘delivery + done’, we actually evolve.

    I find the first step in speaking well to another person’s hear and mind, is to listen.

  2. Ed – That slowing down piece is so hard, and yet the return is so
    significant. Not in a relational ROI, but in helping people with their real
    need rather than with what I think their need is, or with how their need can
    be morphed into my product/project.

    And I hadn’t thought about the golden rule in this context, but it tracks
    very well. Thank you.

  3. I love this. Two responses:

    1. I’ve said for a long time that master communicators are willing to take responsibility for both ends of a conversation — for delivering the message AND for making sure that the other person can receive it.

    2. Re taking another seminar, reading another book, etc.: this is why I’m following Merlin Mann’s lead and spending much less time reading productivity blogs (and books). At some point, it’s not about reading more tips-‘n’-tricks — it’s about behavioral change.

    If you can lead someone to change their behavior (maybe by communicating with them at a master level) you’ve really got something.