Taking Steps Toward Leadership–helping people

When someone constantly says, “Let me help you,” and they mean “Let me have it and do it for you,” push them out the door.  What they are saying, in effect, is “You’re a doofus and you’ll never figure it out for yourself.”  If you want to help someone, don’t give them the answer to a question they haven’t asked.  If you want to really help someone, do it in a way that allows them to find the answer within themselves.  Do Not assume that everyone that appears helpless is broken and needs fixing.  It is better to assume that they AREN’T broken and have the answers to their situations within them.

How do you do that if you can see that they’re obviously broken?

You have to think to yourself, obvious to whom?  Wouldn’t it make sense to make this brokenness obvious to the person himself, then fix it for him?  It would surely take much less time than having him come to that conclusion on his own.  Can’t we just start from the point where he acknowledges that you are right and go from there?  All he has to do is own up to the behavior or attitude or perspective EVERYONE AROUND THEM already sees in him.  And yet…

We all know people who will assume the thoughts and actions they believe people see in them.  There’s the little kid who’s told over and over that everything he tries to do will fail.  There’s the mentally fragile young woman that assumes the diagnosis of whatever therapist she’s seeing.  She becomes the PTSD victim, and then recovers some memories of events the therapist suggests, and then she becomes the disassociative personality, and acts all these roles out even though she has none of these conditions.  In every case, the one person who COULD help, helps overtly.  This person will tell the person they are broken and then tell them they can be fixed.  Then they will suggest a regimen or a pill or a series of sessions where they suggest changes.

I have many students and friends who have found themselves in these conditions.  One makes excuses for mistakes during his guitar lessons saying, “My brain, it’s all foggy, and doesn’t work right.”  I tell him, “Close your eyes.  Breath in, breath out.  Now tell me how you can continue this song and play it perfectly right now.”  “If I play it without accompaniment and slower, I’ll be fine.”  “Good!  Let’s try that!”  He will normally play it very very close to perfectly.  “See?  Your brain works perfectly fine.”

This gets me to a very important point.  This is a normal curve:

People cannot all think alike.  Not all brains process information the same way.  You don’t want them to!  That would eliminate all the Sherlock Holmes’, all the Van Goghs, all the Forrest Gumps.  But in trying to increase that center portion, the 68.26% the researchers have actually reduced it.  The curve now looks like this:


Everyone is abnormal except for 3 people in North Dakota.  Everyone has a deviance from the norm of some sort.  Some kids are too active, some are not active enough.  Some think in pictures, some think in words, some can only understand if they hear, some learn kinesthetically.  Some people have long attention spans, some short.  Some love to be around people, some don’t.  Anyone who does not conform to the ideal is shuffled off to one side or another in the abnormal range (meaning the 4.56% in the 2nd and 3rd deviations on either side of the norm.)  The only way to get these abnormal people back into the normal range is with intense therapy and behavioral modification and/or prescription drug therapy.  What I’m saying here is that people are, for the most part, not broken.  There should not be 95.44% of the population that is not normal.  The ones that are truly broken are those in the 3rd deviation and shouldn’t be that common.

Look at a typical group of 100 people.  In that group, how many should be on medication or doing intensive psychological therapy?  Not even 1.  Yet if you were to ask 100 of the people you know whether they are on medication for mental conditions of any sort, you’d get 10’s of people saying they were.  Only 4 should be noticeably different than the norm.  13 should be above average in mental health and 14 below.  The rest should be absolutely average.  Yet 11% of the population has ADHD.  Another 2.5% have Bipolar problems.  In total, they estimate that 26.2% of people have a diagnosable mental illness. They also estimate there’s 15-20% of the population with Learning disabilities.  Shouldn’t that be closer to no more than 5%?

What if we put the statistics away?  What if we quit doping and mentally shoving everyone into the same mold?  What if we are NOT all broken but have the capacity to grow and change and learn, and do this in our own unique way?  What if the students I teach are not learning disabled, but have problems learning like everyone is supposed to.  That doesn’t mean the brain doesn’t work; it just means it works differently.  Did I mention that these so-called disabled students that I teach don’t progress any slower than the average students?

Quit fixing people, enlighten them!  Let them solve their problems so that they own the solution and are not merely trying to fit into someone else’s ideal.  Keep in mind that MOST PEOPLE AREN’T BROKEN!



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