What is the best way to help people? Is it in the service of many?
I had the default quick rationalization that it’s better to serve the many, until I came upon the words of Dag Hammarskjöld in the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: “It is more noble to give yourself completely to one individual than to labor diligently for the salvation of the masses.”
I realized that even one person can have huge impact, so therefore all interactions are in equal value in that sense. All interactions are worth investing!
So what is the best way to be of use? Value can only be provided when we understand. Understanding can be acquired by relating to the other person(s) point of view.
To understand we often need to stop, listen and observe carefully. Most needs are not so obvious, although some low level (Maslow’s’ hierarchy of needs) needs like hunger or cold in other people for example may be such easily observable. Needs get more complex as we progress in the hierarchy, so therefore the amount of time, attention and ability are needed.
Careful listening, observation and great question skills set apart the best friends, doctors, therapists and sales people. Great doctors take their time to diagnose.
Understanding is our map, our compass or should I say the GPS? How could we expect to help, unless where the other person is at all?
If we take our time to deeply understand each other, we will change our world.