Help Others, But Don't Forget to Help Yourself!

Last Update: September 18, 2019

Today I want to have a bit of discussion about productivity, but I am going to be discussing it in a way that hopefully will give you some newfound perspective as to why you are not accomplishing what you WANT to accomplish, and frankly, why are better at helping others achieve their goals.

This discussion is going to be about "proximal empathy".

People have a natural tendency to teach those they care about, things that they know is the right thing to do. The problem is that we care more about others we care about, typically than we do ourselves.

This typically goes for friends and family members, or caring about others in general (including our pets).

Let's look at a few examples of this, and then I want to put portray the idea of "proximal empathy" in terms of business, and hopefully help you become better at what you already KNOW you should be doing, but you aren't doing (and that you are likely able tell others to do).

We Care About Others More Than Ourselves.

As selfish as you think people are, it is in our human nature to show more care about others than ourselves. I know prominent figures don't exhibit that mentality these days, but the reality is that it is ingrained in us to help and inform others as per the RIGHT thing to do. This references safety, personal health, and making the right life decisions.

The first example that exhibits proximal empathy, is injury/health.

When your kids or your parents are injured or are not feeling good, we immediately go into "help" mode offering advice.

"You should go to the doctor and get that checked out."
"Your knee is injured, you should take a couple weeks off of basketball while it heals."
"You are in pain, you need to try this..."
"You should eat healthier."
"You need to ride your bike with your helmet on."
"Please make sure you stretch before you play basketball tonight."

This is in our natural human nature. This is because we are caring, empathetic people. We want to see others, in particular those we care about, be healthy, injury free, and happy.

Pretty straightforward right?

Well yes, until it comes to our own health. We don't take the very advice we are giving to others.

The reality is we don't do the same for ourselves, generally speaking. We don't apply the same sense of care to our own body, as we do others. We are more willing to "educate" our children and our aging parents on what is "right" for them and what they need to do, versus take our own advice. We are more likely to promote safe habits, and to tell others to be careful, then to show the same concern for being careful ourselves.

There have been many well documented case studies on this, we simply don't take care of our health and we are the average person is rarely "practices what they preach".

This goes for business as well.

Offering Sound Business Advice vs. Doing It.

Another glaring reality is that this happens in business all the time as well. I know personally, because I do it all the time when I am teaching and helping folks here at Wealthy Affiliate. I tend to do the same thing when I am helping friends and family members that come to me for advice with their businesses. I teach them what I know is the RIGHT way to be approaching certain aspects of business for maximum efficiency (and ultimately revenue), but I am not always doing it myself.

I am more willing to help folks fix their obvious flaws in their day to day activities, with their efficiency, and how they approach their day, then I do for myself. It is because we are good at knowing what to do, and worse at actually doing it.

I am sure most of you reading this know this for a fact. If you don't, then you are more than likely naive to the idea of "proximal empathy", or helping those around you more than you help yourself.

So How Do You Start Doing the Right Thing?

This is easier said than done, but it starts with awareness and acknowledging obvious flaws in your day to day activities that could be adversely impacting your business (and health for that matter).

You tell your parents that they should be smoking, then you quietly venture off to your back patio to "closet smoke". That isn't doing anyone any favors, not yourself, and certainly not those around you that care about you.

You tell your friend that his business would be operating much more efficiently if they documented their daily goals each and every day, cutting down to less than 30 minutes of social media per day, and cut out checking emails more than 3 times per day. Obvious techniques that lead to efficiency.

Or perhaps you tell someone how to efficiently outsource mundane tasks in their business, but you end up doing them over and over, and OVER again.

These are cases where you know of the proper way to approach an aspect of business that will truly help you build and grow your business, but you don't do it yourself. You simply don't do it and it costs you dearly through the arc of time. It costs you hours upon hours you could have been productive with. It leads to all sorts of missed opportunities. And of course, it costs you money and leads to less revenue.

Solution: Create a Punishment for Your Bad Behaviour

Go to your room! Your grounded!

No, not really. And I certainly don't mean hurt yourself, but perhaps if you created an outcome that was not a desirable one for yourself if you did not "practice what you are preaching", then it would motivate you to do the right thing.

What if you tied spending too much time on social media, to push-ups. For every minute you went over 30 minutes in daily usage, you had to research 5 keywords.

What if you tied not setting goals, to not having any coffee. You don't get to have your first cup of Joe in the morning, until you have set out actionable goals for the day.

What if you tied every calorie you ate over 1,000, to push ups. If you eat too many calories in a day, you are at least going to be getting in good shape as a result of it. If this was the punishment, you would think twice before grabbing the 360 calorie donut! lol

If you have an outcome and one that will actually help improve your situation, if you are not taking your own advice, you will be more inclined to do the right thing.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this. I am pretty sure that as you look inward, you are going to realize that it is with relative regularity that you are offering "advice" to others that you know is the right thing to do, but you aren't doing yourself.

Leave your comments, insights, and stories below. I look forward to hearing them.

PS. I'm off to do some push-ups!

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Sruffey Premium
Well Kyle you are wise beyond your years, like Richard said you hit it right on the head. We all need something to moivate ourselves like we are teaching someone else. I have taken a few months off from wealthy Affiliate, because I started a new job after 10 years of not working. I was so out of shape that it has taken me a few months to get back in shape and learn the job, produce in a supermarket. Tough on my old butt, but I am getting back to my real job making money online. Maybe I need to go another way and start me a new website on classic old cars and what I know about, which I made a living at for 39 years. I have tried to promote Wealthy Affiliate without any luck, for a year now without one sale. Maybe time to try something I really know and love to share my knowledge to people would like to know more about. You really need to have enough knowledge to get people to read what you say and look at what you are trying to promote before users will stay on your website long enough to look at what you are trying to sale. I am still getting people looking at my website promoting Wealthy Affiliate but nobody is taking any action. Please text me back with your ideas on what I have said. Thanks David.
Kyle Premium Plus
Yeah, this definitely applies to all aspects of our lives, yet they are all inter-related. Diet has an impact on productivity, and productivity and creating a successful business, can have an impact on lifestyle.

We often times know what is the right thing to do, but often times we will choose things that we are comfortable with, or that have become habit...yet when we go to teach someone else about the exact same task, we will give them the most efficient and correct solution.

That is something that we need to harness for ourselves. ;)
berenadeta Premium
Hi Kyle,

Thank you as I see myself in your sharing.

Will be doing my editing and someone arrives needing help and I stop.

Then I try to do my editing at night when everyone is asleep.
And I am exhausted too, so it is not long before I am asleep as well.

I am trying to keep myself motivated though by my small achievements, for example:

1) I did not know anything at all about affiliate marketing, but thanks to you and your great team, I have now received some training and have gained some knowledge that makes me want to continue.

2) I once only knew about writing for print but I am now learning about writing for the web as well.

3) My more than 3000 words I have written so far (and editing), I would have never thought of writing if I had not joined WA. And while writing and during some reflection, I realize that it would have been wasted, but now I can share it with others.

4)Even though I was thinking of writing a book, I realize that by following your advice, I will reach more people faster.

5) It is also an achievement to be networking with like-minded friends all over the world who are more knowledgeable with online business and always ready to help out.

I get motivated also by reading through what you share and the sharing of my other family members in WA.

Thank you Kyle for starting WA. The initiative you and Carson took has enabled all of us to network with each other.

I know that you want us to succeed.

So, while helping others, I am going to help myself by making sure that I complete what I have started with WA.

Kind regards

Linda103 Premium
It's all very true, except that as we get older we hopefully get wiser. We realise that leading by example is the best way to teach others. Like healthy eating, you offer proper home cooked healthy food that you eat yourself.
Walking, you suggest that WE go for a walk because its a good time to talk and connect. Good for kids because they get round to airing their problems.
I talk to my grandkids, ages from 22 - 2 yrs, about my business because its good for them to know there are options besides the 9-5 and that you are never too old to learn. And that its fun to learn and achieve things whatever your age.
Well, I could waffle on with more examples but I won't.

Good post and makes you think. That was me too many years ago.

zcfpbaby Premium
Nurses and healthcare providers are famous for this. The tell others how to take care of themselves, but they fail to care for themselves. Even when they are ill, they continue to work and not do what they are advising others to do. I have written about this in several of my blogs, but still don't follow my own advise to take care of myself.
What you just wrote is good advice. Now all I have to do is listen and follow it. Will try, but-----
BobMargroff Premium
Hmmm, I guess it IS time for a little self-evaluation. For my business and physical conditioning. I can only guess that you have been spying on me...I have been needing to exercise more and cut back on snacks...both of which I have failed miserably...LOL!

Oh, I don't even want to mention what I am not doing on my website. I know there is more that needs to be done.

Thanks for the reminder, Kyle. I guess I better look for that little camera...and destroy it. LOL!!

Do you want some company with those push-ups?