Sunday, May 20, 2012

Do For One What You Wish You Could Do For All

Think outside the box... it's where the best i...
Think outside the box... it's where the best ideas live. (Photo credit: ArtJonak)

In my last post, I discussed Andy Stanley's idea that being fair is a bad idea.  This is certainly thinking outside the box.  Just as Americans believe the Constitution gives us all a right to be happy, most also think that life should be fair.  We expect our government, our judicial system,  our personal and professional relationships to be fair.  How often have the children, the students in your life said, "It's not fair!"  How often have your coworkers complained to you, "It's not fair!"  How much of your time as a mom, a teacher, a boss is spent trying to be fair to all concerned?  Do you refrain from doing certain things because if you did it for one, you'd feel obligated to do it for all?

Andy Stanley's recommendation is to quit trying to be fair in all circumstances.  Not only is it often not possible, he goes even further and says that because it is not possible to give to all, we decide to do nothing for anyone.  This results in us being uninvolved and disconnected.  Instead he recommends; "Do for one, what you wish you could do for all."  Because of the interest in this post,  I thought I would elaborate further on how he suggests that you should follow this principle.

  • Go Deep instead of Wide--Rather than try to meet the needs of all, select one or two who show potential and motivation. Give them special attention in the area of exceptional ability.  Oprah Winfrey had a third grade teacher who recognized her potential in the midst of her great insecurity.  She allowed her to stay after school regularly where she mentored and encouraged her.  Andy Stanley has a select group of developing leaders that he meets with on a weekly basis to teach and inspire.
  • Go long-term instead of short term-- Once committed, don't just offer a few short sessions of counseling or coaching or teaching and send them on their way so you can develop someone else.  Instead continue for a long enough period of time to really show some results.  Dr. Benjamin Mays took the young student, Martin Luther King Junior under his supportive wings and developed a lifelong friendship.
  • Give Time instead of money--Writing a check might be part of the experience but don't let it be the only part.  Time is a much more valuable and life changing commodity.  Devote regular time to encouraging and empowering someone.  
Where could you apply this principle?  Is there someone who needs your nurturing encouraging relationship so that they can flourish?  


  1. When I was teaching, I would pick out students that I felt needed more time and nurturing, especially those labelled 'bad' (16-18 year old boys!) and give them special attention. If that was unfair - I don't care. I am still in touch with a few of them and know that what I did went a long way to helping them find themselves. I enjoyed both your posts, Lynne.

  2. @Corinne--What a great teacher you must have been (and still are!) Often it is just those children who need the extra attention to blossom.