We give people answers when we should be teaching them to think. But providing an answer takes only a few minutes and teaching people to think takes more time and real effort.
We give people money when we should be teaching them to create increasingly greater levels of value. Giving people money helps them in the short term, but it doesn’t provide growth. It’s much more difficult to help people increase their value.
We try to motivate people to take action and to improve their own results, their own lives. But that motivation lasts only a short time. It’s more difficult to help people identify and activate their real purpose, the internal motivation that they can sustain over their lifetime.
We use quick fix solutions to long term, systemic problems. The person who needs help might take the help and go away, but they haven’t left any better than off then when you found them. They’re still dependent.
Why You Underinvest
Underinvesting produces dependents instead of independence. And there are five reasons that you might be underinvesting.
Your failure to invest in people might mean that you believe the person you are “helping” can’t improve or grow. They aren’t worth investing in because you believe they are incapable of improving.
People will surprise you if you give them a chance.
It might also suggest that you believe they aren’t really worth the level of investment required, that you believe that there is something more important than helping them grow.
Your legacy is going to consist of nothing more than the lives you touched, for good or for ill.
It might be that you really don’t know how to give people the real help they need. This is probably the least likely reason; it’s likely that you are extremely capable and well suited to providing that level of help.
You have the abilities you possess for a reason.
Some people fail to give people the help they really need because it gives them power or control. If their help is always needed, then they are significant, they’re important.
Nothing makes you more significant that helping people grow.
But when it comes to helping people grow, the most likely reason you are underinvesting is that you aren’t really focused on that outcome. You’re focused on treating the presenting problem and not the real source of the problem. Changing the outcome and investing in caring enough to really help solves that problem—and it provides real help.
What to Invest
Investing in people is expensive. Really helping requires you to make much greater investments.
You have to make a greater investment of the most limited and fleeting of all your possessions: your time. Investing your time to really help produces outsized returns. The time invested to give people the help they need is returned to you many times over because it creates independence instead of dependents.
You have to make a greater investment of your emotional energy. You have to care enough about the person that needs your help to give them the help that they really need. That means you have to shift the outcome from how you can help this person in the fastest way possible to how you can help them grow. It’s inefficient. That energy is expensive. It requires patience. It requires tolerance.
If you are reading this and it has touched in you some way, then it’s likely there’s a long line of people that invested enough in caring about you to give you the help that you really needed. Remember what that looked like? Remember how that felt? Remember the difference it made in your life? That’s the investment in caring you need to make in helping others.
Are you giving the people that ask you for help the help that really need? Or are you doing what is efficient over what is really effective?
Are you really creating the value that you are capable of creating? Or are you shortchanging yourself and the people that need your help?
What is the root cause of your underinvestment in caring about other people enough to give them the help that they really need?