I like his motto. I believe in that attitude, in being helpful to others, not just thinking what they can do for me. But sometimes when I sit down to write a blog post, I wonder if I have anything unique to offer. There are plenty of blogs already written by people with much more expertise than I have, it seems to me. I’d just be passing on things I’ve learned from others. The problem is that it's hard to see what's special about ourselves, what we have to offer.
So when Tim asked me for help and I was able to give it, even though it wasn’t anything huge, or unique that only I could do, I felt great doing it.
Then I thought, I’m not following my own advice. I'm focusing on the wrong thing here. I don't have to be all that unique to help others. Being unique is about ME; being helpful is about OTHERS.
Maybe I should see myself as just one link in the chain, like one of the people in the middle of a line, passing the bucket of water from the guy at the hose to the guy next the fire. Passing the message, the help, along where it’s needed.
Maybe I should see myself as a candle. If there are five candles shedding light, they all may look the same, but the room is a whole lot brighter with five than it would be with one. So what if four of those candles were tipped into the flame of the first, and they took their light from it. We’d all like to be the one with the original thought, the first light. But what really matters isn’t our ego. What matters is each of us contributing a little more light.
I decided to stop worrying about being unique, and I wrote out five simple ways I can help others as a writer and speaker. Maybe you can join the chain and add to my list?
Four Ways To Help Others
1. Listen. Help begins with listening to what others need or want. Unless you’re helping them solve their need or meet their goal, you’re not helping, no matter how much you think you’re doing for them.
2. Share. Share your expertise. Whatever you’ve learned, whatever you’re good at, share it freely, and in a practical way that’s useful to others. Blog it; join discussion forums on sites such as Goodreads, LinkedIn, Google+, etc.; speak at libraries, to groups or clubs, at churches and community centers; bundle what you’ve learned and offer it as a free download. No matter what stage of the journey you’re on, someone’s at an earlier stage. You can help them by answering their questions. Don’t be afraid to ask some of your own. People like to help as much as they like to be helped.
3. Share. Pass on good news about others. When someone writes a great blog post, or tweets something interesting, or you read a good book, share their achievement with others: Facebook it, google+ it, retweet, and review the book on Amazon and Goodreads. Writing a review of a book you enjoyed is one of the nicest things you can do for another author, and it costs you nothing but a few minutes of your time.
4. Offer. Think of your writing as an offering, something you give to others. Make sure it’s well worth their time and money, that it’s the best you can do. Whenever you write or speak or teach, ask yourself, how can I meet their needs, whether it’s to give them good advice, to inspire them, or to entertain them.
To get Tim Grahl’s excellent book on book marketing, “Your First 1000 Copies,” (on sale for .99 until June 27) and learn more about his “relentlessly helpful” model, go to: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00DMIWAIC/