Shall We Fish for Others or Teach Them How to Fish?

The client needs to be aware that the results of the consultant’s work depend on the extent to which the client makes the effort to use what the consultant has offered. The client needs to be held accountable.

To give a man a fish means, let’s say, to procure that fish using my resources (let’s say 15 minutes), while to teach him to fish means, let’s say 10 hours, which are distributed over a certain period.

That man will learn to fish and he will no longer need my resources to get fish. If I spend 15 minutes every day to offer him fish, in 40 days it will have been 10 hours and that man will be left with the need. That means spending. To teach a man to fish is an investment.

And if I get him to pay for that investment (for example, to bring me a fish a day), I make him responsible for the respective action and I delegate all the responsibility to him, while I am keeping my responsibility to have taught him correctly. The one I teach to fish has responsibility for what he does, but if I interfered in the fact that he did not need to fish then, but he needed to learn this lesson in another way, on the one hand, this revelation does not belong to him and it creates a dependence on me. This means respecting everyone’s right to their choices. For this reason, every man always makes the best choice, on the map that he has available. The map is the mental representation of the observable reality on the outside. A dominant reason why some people are blamed for the mistakes they made in their choices is that they did not have a large enough map.

When you say a metaphor, for example, and the person realizes something alone, that “aha” belongs to them. What you really want to do, as a help to others and not as a forced intervention, is to make them own that “aha”. Thus, keeping in mind that, if you want to help a person, you condition him/her by your presence in the help you give him/her, it is worse than not helping him/her at all. Creating an addiction or allowing a person to replace an addiction with another is one of the sickest ways in which a problem persists instead of being solved. This is exactly what the rescuer does for the victim if he joins this game. And, as it is appropriate, I’ll end with a metaphor…

I have lived in three countries and traveled to ten so far. At one point, I was on a train in Italy, and two women were trying to get from one car to another. Initially, when I saw them, I thought that in a few seconds they would be able to open the door. But it was not so. Instead, they were left wondering in front of the door. For me, it was a curious situation: how can you not know how to open a simple train door? The system seemed so simple to use… However, for them, it was not so. What seemed to me, on one side of the obstacle, to be a piece of cake, was a real obstacle to them. I went to the door and opened it for them. At that moment, an “Aaaaaah!” appeared on their faces and they were a little surprised by the awareness of the new phenomenon they had learned. When I saw the surprise on their faces, I stopped considering the problem they had “so small” and I was glad that by a gesture that seemed so simple to me, I managed to teach someone… how to open a door in that type of train. Of course, I didn’t expect anything in return, but surely they knew how to open the next door… and they passed through the car I was in. Probably, as big as the surprise of the awareness, that “aha” that they had, was also the “aha” that I had. After all, I only helped them learn how to open a door… but for me, it was a much bigger revelation.

Marcus Victor Grant

Copyright © Marcus Victor Grant 2011-present Translation by Cristiana Brezeanu of the article “Pescuim pentru altii sau ii invatam sa pescuiasca?“  previously published in Romanian in July 2015 on Economia Online. Copyright © Marcus Victor Grant, all rights reserved. Originally written in 2011.

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