How to Resist Being Helpful

Peter Jenson, Ph.D., author, coach, and Olympic sports psychology consultant, said many things during our conversation but one most gripped me.

“I let them stew in their failure for a while.”
Peter Jenson Ph.D.

A team Jenson worked with suffered a disappointing loss. He let them sleep on it. I’ve been mulling over Jenson’s strategy.

Resist the impulse to help when not helping is helpful.

  1. Struggle strengthens.
  2. Failure humbles.
  3. Defeat opens hearts and minds.

Resist the impulse to help when helping in the past didn’t help. The goal of helping is less helping not more. Repeated helping suggests deeper issues, stop it.

An inability to stop helping
is about you.

The longer you help the more painful the stop. If you’ve been carrying someone, it’s going to hurt when you drop them. The pain of dropping them now will be less than the pain you cause by helping too much. The painful truth is helping isn’t always helpful.

A history of helping – helps. Be certain you have a history of helping before resisting the impulse to help. I’ve often been hands off too soon. It makes me seem distant, disconnected, and uncaring. My objective is noble but my method ineffective. To me, staying back expresses respect. Build a base of support before resisting the impulse to help.

The goal of not helping is the same as helping.

The goal of pulling back or stepping in is always development. The simple question is, “Will pulling back aid development?” It’s never personal. Don’t pull back to prove a point. Anger suggests pulling back is about you not them.

Bonus tip: Don’t help those with bad attitudes. Deal with attitudes before behaviors.

Pulling back isn’t permanent. Jensen called a team meeting the next day to discuss their disappointing loss.

When/how do you resist the impulse to help?