The problem is, sometimes we are reaching in to pull someone out of the quicksand and we don't have a firm grip on anything ourselves.
A major lesson I've learned over the years about helping is that you need to assess whether or not you are in a position to help and to what degree. It feels good to help, and so many of us offer it before we think about what we're actually offering. This is not to say that you should close off and stop helping people entirely. It is important though to ask yourself what you can do to help and what your limitations are. If you offer to help and you're not prepared to do so, you hurt the person far worse than if you had never offered to help in the first place. Below are a few questions to ask before you extend that hand.
1. Do I have sufficient time to do what I say I'm going to do?
2. Is there anyone else that I know who could be more helpful to this person either because they have more resources or more time?
3. Are there any resources books, blogs, conferences, etc. that I can point this person to?
4. Do I know enough about this person's situation to truly be helpful?
5. What elements would limit my ability to help? Ex. money, time, connections, information
There is a fine line between helping and hurting. It's great to want to help, but take some time to ask the tough questions first, so the help you provide really supports the person you are reaching out to.
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