I love helping people. I guess it’s why I naturally fit into Learning and Development so well and why I felt at home the first time I was delivering in a classroom. It’s why my business is called Lightbulb Moment and on Twitter I’m @LightbulbJo – it’s the moment of learning, of independence, of insight. I love it.
Why do I help people? I’m not sure. It’s my nature I guess, something that’s in me. My mother helps people. Gosh does she. She’s always been a mother hen, taking in people under her wings. An awesome inspiration to see how much she helped and supported people just by being herself, by doing what she was good at and without really realising it. It’s only when she retired and there was a massive, grateful party did she have any inkling as to the impact she had on people’s lives. That’s quite a role model.
Is there some deep psychological issue at play in helping people? Maybe. There is an argument that humans never do anything that is truly altruistic, that there is always some kind of pay-off somewhere. I like to think that I’m doing it out of the goodness of my heart, truly not for myself. But I get something out of it too. There’s the psychological payback immediately of “oh, I know the answer to this” or “I can contribute to this conversation” which, ultimately must mean “I’m good”.
I’ve been helping Sarah with her travel blog. She’s a great natural writer, who needs a bit of experience to hone her skills. She went off on an extensive travelling adventure this year. There were beautiful photo’s on Facebook and lovely insights and stories when we caught up on Messenger Video. It seemed natural, at least to me, that she should share those stories for other people’s entertainment and to inform them from what she had learned.
I help Sarah a bit with editing some of her posts, giving her the insight that I have about writing, structure, delivering a message. I might not be the best expert in the world, but as Con Sotidis said to me yesterday, “you just need to be one step ahead” of who you are helping. I’ve helped (pushed!?) Sarah into setting up a Twitter account to publicise her blog and she’s getting great at using hashtags. It’s lovely to help someone with what, to me, is relatively easy, and to Sarah is a step into the unknown.
I’m also encouraging Sarah to write some more about her work experiences, as she’s going into a new industry and new role. I can see the richness in what we talk about and how much that could help other people if she shares the story, if she “works out loud”. She’s beginning to write some of that and shared with me a first draft yesterday. That draft was great. Even as someone with a couple of decades in the industry, I was captivated by what she was writing and saw great potential in some of her observations. I’ve fanned that flame and I look forward to it growing.
Sarah is also a very grateful and self-effacing young woman who always wants to give back, to ensure that the balance of give and take are there. It’s this point that struck me this morning. She might feel that she is taking more than she’s giving, with the support that I’m providing. What she probably doesn’t realise is how much I enjoy it. How I love to edit her work and see something fresh and different from my normal L&D focused work. I get something from it too, from working outside of my own industry.
And then there are the fireworks. I get to reflect on what Sarah has written, our conversation, our joint meaning-making. I think about it. It sparks something in me. That creativity is hard to manufacture. That comes when given the right context.
I have my own company and, largely, I work at home, alone. I love it. I can write this blog at 9.42 in the morning and not have a boss breathing down my neck. I can spend time chatting with people on Skype to advise them or just share my own experiences. It’s fine, as long as I hit my client’s deadlines and quality expectations, they don’t mind how I get there.
Yes, I have Skype, Twitter and obviously lots of online sessions I deliver to keep in touch with people during the day. Whilst I might be alone I’m rarely lonely.
The creative spark comes from connecting with people. The wonderful Michelle Parry-Slater has written recently on this topic, about the face to face connection that many people seek out. I agree with her, we need that time. This is a different type of connection though. With Sarah, it’s been largely Facebook Messenger chats, effectively working remotely with each other, and some phone/video calling. It’s been interwoven in our friendship, which, equally, could be a good colleague relationship.
Do I get something out of helping Sarah? Of course, she’s a delightful and positive person and tells me how awesome I am. We can all do with a bit of that! More than that is the curiosity she brings to topics, the questions and search for meaning and understanding. That’s what sparks something in me. That’s just one good reason to help people.