Are you being helpful, or 'helpful'

Uncategorized Jan 02, 2018

Here's part two to the video:

First of all, yesterday was our first full day Create Your Life Vision Board workshop. It was absolutely phenomenal. All the women were amazing, creative, courageous, and they are set to make 2018 THEIR YEAR!! We did not just do vision boards all day, there was so much we covered to get everyone set up for success. I’m holding another one on Jan 29, you must participate. Email me to get the info sheet on this.  

As I was coaching one of the participants yesterday who was struggling with a challenging relationship with a work colleague. She was quite attached to her view of the person. ‘She’s disrespectful, doesn’t do her job, incapable, annoying, doesn’t listen…. ‘, and she was justified in her position and her view  around this person. (and she was very aware of all these patterns, which made it almost harder because she was also making herself wrong about her nasty feelings towards this woman).

If this doesn’t sound familiar at all and you never experience grudges, I suspect you might not be human. If you do relate to her, read on:

Are you helpful, or ‘helpful’?

You like to help. Helping makes you a better human.

Does it though? Always?

Go back to a time when someone tried to help you (or worse, jumped in to your rescue and took over for you). How did that make you feel? Annoyed? Resistant? Frustrated? Disempowered?

In his book ‘Helping’, by Edgar Shine, he wrote about that when you offer to help someone, you one up yourself, your raise your status and lower hers (or his), whether you mean to or not.

(you have probably seen  THIS VIDEO -it’s pretty funny. it’s not about the nail!)

This morning I was listening to an audiobook by Michael Bungay Stanier and so much of what he was saying about being ‘helpful’ was so perfectly relatable.

He says:

If you ever find yourself playing one of the Seven dwarfs: Sulky, Moany, Shouty, Crabby, Martyry, Touchy, Petulant - when you know you should know better, you are likely playing ONE OF THESE ROLES:

The Victim

The Accuser

The Rescuer

As you are reading this, I want you to locate yourself in this. And, if you want more info, read the book linked above, it’s really good.

The Victim role:

Your go-to belief is ‘life is hard, poor me, it’s unfair’.

You are quick to think and say ‘It’s not my fault, it’s yours’.

You get something out of this dynamic. Your benefit is that you aren’t responsible for fixing anything, you get to complain, and you create rescuers around you.

You feel stuck because you lack power, cause in a matter, and things don’t happen around you.

I was playing this role in my marriage with Sam and created a constant rescuer. For how much power I have in my professional life, I fell into the victim role in our relationship. Or maybe he, the rescuer, created me, knowing him - he would take 100% responsibility for this one.  If this is you, stop it. Stop whining. Get yourself some power and start making a difference.

The Accuser Role

Your core belief is that you are surrounded by fools and idiots.

Your go-to dynamic is ‘it’s not my fault, its theirs, they suck’

Now, your payoff is that you get to feel superior and in control. You are the only one capable around here, aren’t you.

And of course, there’s a cost to this. You end up being responsible for EVERYTHING. You are overworked and exhausted. You have CREATED VICTIMS around you and noone seems to take initiative. People think of you as a micromanager, and you likely have no idea where that’s coming from because you blame them and their lack of abilities.  

You likely feel frustrated all the time and don’t trust people.

And you might feel stuck and sort of resigned about the whole situation and have no idea how to get out of it.

And you are not bad and wrong, you are human, so if this is you, pause and forgive yourself. This is me 2 years ago running Blooming Beets Kitchen, above I was describing myself word for word. If you are stuck in this one, and working all the time, you MUST. GET. COACHING. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, and the only way through the tunnel is giving things up and cleaning it up with people around you. Had I not gotten coaching on this, the restaurant would not exist right now.

Believe me when I say it really isn’t them, it really is you.

The Rescuer Role

Your core belief is ‘don’t worry - let me jump in and rescue and fix it. It’s my responsibility and not yours. (I tend to get that way too with my employees and create victims too and oscillate between The Rescuer and The Accuser).  

Your go to dynamic is: it’s my fault or responsibility, not yours

If you are falling into this category, well - get coaching first and foremost, and what you should be looking at is

a. What is the trigger; what happens right before you have this need to jump in and help? What’s the feeling behind it? Is there a sense of guilt when you don’t?

b. You’ve got to seriously start looking at what keeps you from creating performers around you. What happens when you set expectations?

Are you afraid of feeling guilt tripped by the victims you have created?

You are making yourself wrong for saying no, and feel the pressure of the other person making you wrong?

(my former coach Hillary called this the Double Gang-Up, part of you and the other person making you feel guilty when you make requests and ask people around you to perform.

The payoff of this martyr-like behavior is this: You feel morally superior. (I’m good enough when I sacrifice enough). You are indispensable.

The cost is TO YOU mostly. You can feel resentful.  Burdened. Unappreciated. You create lots of helpless victims around you.

These 3 labels aren’t who you are. This is how you behave in a situation. I tend to play all three, sometimes in the same situation go back and forth.

Let’s summarize this. Which one are you?

You are probably pretty clear by now, but if you aren’t, go ahead and  think of the most annoying person you know you work with.  Pause for a minute and reflect, then read on.


What happened? What’s the thoughts that came up? Did you jump to a accuser mode? (THEY MADE ME SO MAD), or did you go whiny in your head and started telling yourself how unfair it all is? Or did you want to jump to their rescue in your head?

So what you do?

  1. Train yourself to stop jumping in to provide unsolicited help.

  2. When you need help, ASK ‘what can I do’, or ‘what’s needed’, before jumping in, making sure you are actually being helpful and aren’t playing one of the unhelpful roles.

  3. If you are managing people, don’t give them answers. I’m historically so terrible at this because I so like to feel smart and helpful, but I’m taking this on myself. So, when people ask you for advice, let them discover things. When someone comes to you with a question, before you jump to answer, say ‘Hey, I don’t know but let’s look! What do you think you could do? (Pause. Wait. Don’t talk.).  What else? (Pause. Wait. don’t talk).

  4. Get coached and transform these patterns via Mental Rehearsal that I talk about so much in my workshops.

Hope you have a wonderful rest of your week. 



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