How Can I Help You?

March 29, 2009

I have had lots of opportunities in recent days to be helpful – or at least to try. Through the “Outside the Job Box Career Experts ©” group I was able to make recommendations to colleagues on ways to approach studying, ways to find practice clients, and ways to do simple first marketing steps. In a coaching group I was able to help colleagues come up with ideas for workshops they want to plan. I even got to talk with two friends about their long-term career dreams and how to make them happen. It has been a powerful reminder of the value gained by helping people. founder Valerie Young tells the story of how she added creative career consultation to her business years ago. She started with a newsletter and workshops for people who wanted to make a living doing something they love, and along the way she gathered a lot of information and ideas.

Time after time she would wind up in a conversation with a brand new acquaintance about the person’s dreams and deep interests, brainstorming ways to turn them into a business they could love. She realized she loved the creative brainstorming and she loved helping people. She also realized she was good at it and people saw value in it. So she developed a process for consulting with people and now trains other people to do the same thing.

It really can be hard sometimes to figure out how to use our natural gifts, talents, and passions in a way that other people see as valuable. A lot of times it can feel like one of those children’s games, like “Marco Polo” in the swimming pool where the person with his eyes closed calls out and the other children answer, but they keep moving around so it’s hard to pinpoint any one of them. It’s kind of like “Hot and Cold,” too, where somebody hides something and then you have to walk around slowly, listening for limited guidance: “You’re getting warmer, warmer. Oh, now you’re getting colder. Now you’re really cold.”

Sometimes it’s easy to identify an area of special ability, but it seems really difficult to figure out how to use it in a way that benefits others. A person who is thrilled to learn details about Civil War era relics may think the only way to make a living with that passion is through academic study or museum work. He doesn’t realize that people would enjoy a book that expresses his passionate interest through stories that bring the artifacts to life, or that instead of saving up money to visit battlefields he could organize tours that pay for him to visit and share his passion with his tour group.

Often the key is in something as simple as helping others. What do you like to help others do? Is there a particular area where, when someone needs help with it, you want to be the one asked because you understand it better than most other people? Are you hoping someone will ask just because it’s so interesting it’s fun to talk about? Whether it’s training animals, brewing your own beer, traveling on a shoestring budget, or organizing workshops and seminars, your desire to share your knowledge and abilities with others is giving you huge clues about how to work with people in a way that benefits them.

When the way you love to help people benefits them, it brings them value. When you find a way to bring value to people, you have the first layer of your business model. When that way of bringing value to people also brings you enjoyment, you have the foundation for your life work.

May You Know the Joy of Sharing Your Gifts,

Steve Coxsey
Ideal Life Work & Self-Employment Advocate


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