Last week I shared a situation I was in, some years ago, in which a man trying to go about his business along the road needed some help but all passers-by, including myself failed to provide the support he needed. I still regret having let this opportunity pass by but I have come to realise that similar situations occur every day and all the time. It happens at home, on the street, at work, everywhere. While we are minding our own business, we often overlook and miss countless opportunities to extend a helping hand and provide a little support even when not asked for. More often than not we see the opposite kind of behaviour instead. It is: Me first, thean you. That is what I often think when I observe people around me, going their way. It could be on the street, in the traffic, in the office, anywhere. They are in their own world, not observing what is going on around them, strictly concentrating on their own activities, whatever they do. They don’t only take any notice of others; they actually don’t seem to care about them. In fact they seem to think that only themselves matter, not others, as if we don’t live in a so called interdependent world. They think: “Me first, then you.” I observe it in the traffic, in the bank, in the shop etc. Waiting and allowing others to go their turn doesn’t come to their mind. In the process they offend others or worse, they create obstacles for everybody else, including themselves, to move on. We experience this in traffic every day, when drivers overtake left, right and centre while there is a jam further down the road. While doing so they offend everybody else waiting in line and on top of that block oncoming traffic, increasing the jam. Instead of helping the situation they make it worse. Maybe their offensive behaviour will help them move on, but for how long and at what cost? They are in their own world, not realising that with a little more patience, respect, some assistance, giving some space to others, they will actually make a positive difference and help not only themselves but others too. This applies in every walk of life, not only traffic. It applies to the workplace and in the business as well. We are not alone and while getting out of our own small world, seeing the bigger picture, realising that we depend on one another will help a long way in achieving results. As long as we don’t see beyond our own little world, we will continue getting the results we always used to get, not necessarily the best.
So it is important to open our eyes, see beyond our immediate environment, look around, observe, widen our vision and learn to see thing differently, try to see things through the eyes of another person.
When we stick to the way we see things we will continues doing things in the same way, getting the same results all the time.
Taking this to the work place and to management, how would this then help us in doing business? First of all we need to remind ourselves that all workers play a role in achieving the mission and results of the organization or company. Where some workers or departments are weak in playing their part, the whole business will suffer. It is therefore in the company’s interest that management identifies weaknesses and provides support. This could be in the form of training (formal or on the job), coaching, additional resources, incentives or simple recognition and appreciation for efforts made. By doing so, management will play a role model and create a culture in which it becomes the norm for workers to help each other where and when so required instead of sticking to a limited job description. Minding your own business is a negative way of perceiving the work that needs to be done and works against achieving results consistently and thus against the interest of the company. Remember that 1+1=3. In other words, joint efforts will accomplish a whole lot more than all individual efforts combined.
The man I failed to help on his way to probably managed to complete his mission, be it with difficulties. With a little help from anybody who happened to be around, he would have been able to accomplish it much easier and faster. Very often we are just that anybody and we have no excuse not to lend a helping hand.