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Do Something

We make a positive difference in the
lives and careers of others when we
DO SOMETHING instead of making
an empty statement.

I recently came face-to-face with an uncomfortable truth: sometimes I make myself feel better by sincerely offering to do something that I know the other person will never take me up on. At first I comforted myself by thinking it's only on rare occasions, but after mulling it over awhile I realized that it's more common than I like to admit. Worse yet, it is common in organizations too, like Brubacher, the company I lead. My observation is that we all tend to do the very same well-meaning things I've done countless times. The consequences can be devastating to relationships, careers and life itself.

It all started when my wife and I signed up for a class at church to study the book “Satisfied: Discovering Contentment in a World of Consumption” by Jeff Manion. In this particular part of the book, he was expounding on the virtue of DOING SOMETHING good, not just thinking about it, raising awareness about it, or offering to do something good:

"I find myself with a grieving friend at a funeral home visitation. The weight of the loss is suffocating and the journey of grief will be long. We stand there together, and I offer with utmost sincerity, ‘If you need ANYTHING, call me.’ And I mean it. With these truly heartfelt words, I have just offered everything but not yet done anything. I have now handed my friend a blank check, but it is neither dated nor signed."

"Such an offer places two obligations on the recipient. The person who is grieving, or depressed, or exhausted now has been dealt twin responsibilities: (1) They must ask for my help. (2) They must be creative enough to know what it is they need. But my experience is that people in extreme pain or confusion often lack the willingness to ask for help, even if they have the creativity and clarity to discern what to specifically ask for." (Manion, 2013, p. 128)

While I can identify with the example of a friend in need, the same situation is replayed in many organizations on a daily basis. We meet a new team member on the job, introduce ourselves and then say, "If you need anything or have any questions, let me know." And we mean it. Unfortunately, like the grieving friend, they are often intimidated by the new role or reluctant to ask for help. Worse, they likely don't know the hazardous parts of the job and may not even know WHAT to ask, even if they have the courage and the willingness. So, we go merrily on our way thinking we have been friendly, helpful and caring. In reality, we've done nothing.

We make a real difference instead if we lend a helping hand, such as saying, “Here, let me show you how that's done," and then taking the time to model the task. Or you could say, "I'd like to introduce you to your co-worker, John. He's going to be working with you today and will show you how we do things here." But it’s not just new team members who need our help. Often times it's the experienced workers who have become over-confident or complacent who really need help. DOING SOMETHING might mean stopping to lend a hand in lifting a heavy object, alerting them to a hazard, or helping them understand new technology or a new piece of equipment.

We make a positive difference in the lives and careers of others when we DO SOMETHING instead of making an empty statement that helps us feel better but doesn't actually change anything for anybody else. In fact, you might even save the life (or career) of a co-worker who otherwise may not even know when or what to ask for. Tomorrow when you go to work, home, school, volunteer, church, or wherever you see others who are facing new challenges, step up and DO SOMETHING!

 

Manion, Jeff. (2013). Satisfied: Discovering Contentment in a World of Consumption. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan.

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