I was talking with a very experienced leader, let’s call him Mr. QC, and he told me his team was operating in a resource-scarce environment. His mantra is “when sharing resources, give your best people”. Mr. QC went on to elaborate how quality is not a matter of process but a culture that needs to be inculcated. This struck a chord with me. As the tsunami of a second wave sweeps through our country, where ever you look, we are falling short of resources. If ever there was a time to offer a helping hand it’s now.
Many of us want to help, but only after looking after ‘my team’ or ‘my family’ first. Often the solution we arrive at is to offer the person who is a bit free or is not doing that great a job. A gesture of goodwill no doubt, but not necessarily one that will be of the most help. A perfect time to be reminded thanks to the wisdom of MR. QC, that when someone asks us for help, we must offer our best hand and by extension our best pair of hands.
Knowing when to ask for help is equally important as offering it. Many people just don’t feel comfortable asking for help. Asking at the right time makes such a difference. To the person who needs help and to the help giver. Like so many things in life, timing plays an important role here as well. “I need help with…” complete the sentence. We all need help in some aspect of our lives.
Mr. QC went on to share a story about Guru Nanak. The tale goes that on his travels through Bengal, he came to a town, tired and hungry. He asked for food and shelter. The people of the town conferred and decided they did not have enough to go around and turned the travelers away. After a cold and uncomfortable night, before leaving, Guru Nanak prayed for the people of the town “May these people live in this village forever.” A disciple who was traveling with him was angry with the people for their unkind behavior and surprised with this blessing, but did not say anything.
A day later, Guru Nanak and his disciple arrived at another town and here once again he asked for food and shelter. This town was filled with good people who helped him. In the morning, before departing he once again prayed for the people of the town “May the people of this town be scattered around the world.”
The disciple could not contain himself and asked Guru Nanak why he punished the people who helped him by sending them away from their homes and rewarded the unhelpful ones by keeping them in their homes. He answered that when good people scatter around the world they spread their goodness. They carry it with them wherever they go.
So, the next time a colleague is short-staffed and asks for help… Do whatever you can yourself to use your skills to be of help. Then find the best person on your team and after explaining the situation, offer their help as well. They will do their magic, improve the situation and return to the home team fast. The shift from me and mine to we and ours is the need of the hour.
A closing note of wisdom from a young team member who spoke up in a recent online get-together. she reminded us that while we try our best to help, sometimes we fail. When that happens, we should be kind to ourselves and not beat ourselves up for being helpless. The very act and spirit of generosity and care that drives every helping hand and heart and mind to do what can be done, is the spirit of humanity. It is a blessing to be asked for help. Give your best, and give your best people.
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