Michael's Monthly Column "Throwing My Loop" - No. 32
True Helpers

Recently a woman strode toward the stage after my performance at a convention. She had me in her sights and I could tell she was agitated and when she pointed her finger at me and said, “You’re wrong!”
I thought, “Hmmm…she’s agitated.”

“I don’t care what you say,” she began. “Kids are not like they used to be. When I went to school, we had to treat teachers with respect, we had to say ‘Sir,’ and ‘Ma’am,’ we had to do our homework and we had to work!”

I asked, “And how old are you?”
“I’m 22,” she snapped.

Yep, things have pretty much gone to hell since 1999.

That little story illustrates a common problem in our society. After working for a number of years, teaching school, (and going to a large number of rodeos) I’ve noticed people, even those in different occupations,
have a common problem.

They all have trouble getting people to follow instructions, to cooperate, in short, to be motivated. You certainly find this difficulty in schools, (“kids are just not like they were…”) managers in industry have a similar problem, (“people just don’t respect authority like they once did…”) and to my surprise, physicians have the same problem, (“patients just won’t follow my advice about taking prescribed medication…”). I’ve even heard cowboys say, “Horses are different these days, they’re just too thin-blooded and too hyper. They don’t make’em like they used to.”

What’s going on here? Have Americans really lost their work ethic? Are people who go to the doctor really so stupid as to risk their lives by not following orders? Has the AQHA caused faulty genetics in horses…and has God changed the DNA structure in our children without telling us?

I doubt it, amigo.

The explanation for all these apparently stupid people may have other answers. My theory is that because most of us, (those older than 22) were raised to respect authority. We reacted differently to teachers, supervisors, doctors and the like. Then as we matured and found ourselves in those same careers, we expected people to respond as we did. We expected people to behave and do as they were told…but to our surprise, people don’t. Once that happens, regardless of our chosen work, we conclude, “Hmm…something must be wrong with people. They are not as ‘good’ as they once were.”

I lived with that belief for many years. “Yep, folks are not like they once were, things were better then, people were different.” All I had to do was sit on my den couch, and from that lofty, quite comfortable position, I sat and shook my head sadly feeling sorry for America.

Then I began to get confused.

Each day, I found many examples of the ‘decline,’ yet there were always a troublesome few that didn’t fit the mold. Coaches who seemed to win regardless of what school employed them, teachers who somehow were able to excite students about learning, supervisors and managers in industry who could elicit tremendous productivity from employees, salesman who could make extraordinary amounts of money regardless of the state of the economy, and even cowboys who could still find good horses. “What’s going on here?” I thought. “How can these folks be so successful if people are no good anymore?” So, I began to go seek these people out who, in spite of all our problems, seemed to be creating success. I wanted to observe their behavior, and see if I could determine what they were doing differently. Here is what I saw…

These “true helpers” as I grew to call them, were in fact doing something different. They were reaching hearts, touching minds and changing lives, in schools, in factories and in the work place. And watching them, living with them, and sitting at their knee for over a decade, I am now better at describing what they do…

True helpers are spiritual people. They may be in church every Sunday, or they may not, but they all believe something bigger than you and me is going on down here. They see themselves as their brother and sister’s keeper.
Rather than focusing on how bad people are, they look for gifts, talents and abilities in other human beings.
True helpers tell other people about their gifts. They make us aware of our talent. These folks, whether they be leaders, teachers, preachers, fiddle makers, or cowboys know they can change lives. They let their light so shine so others may know of their good works.
They refuse to let others waste their lives. Much like my man, Freddie Fender, they can’t stand ‘wasted days,’ ‘wasted nights,’ and simply will not allow ‘wasted lives.’
They love their Work. They are not those who hate Mondays and live for Fridays. They don’t care what day it is, they have found their path. True helpers combine strong interpersonal skills with humor to connect with others. Like good ropers, they’ve built a big loop.

Ropers keep their loop open by extending their arm. True helpers do the same thing…they are always reaching out.

They are lifetime learners. No evolutionary dead-ends here.
These folks are curious seekers.
True helpers are answering a call. That may not be politically correct these days, but they’re in touch with something bigger than themselves.
They persist in their high expectations.
They are positive people.
They know and use the most powerful motivator…encouragement.

Those are the things true helpers are doing and we are all better off because they are. That’s how they’re reaching hearts, touching minds and changing lives. You can sit on the couch and curse the darkness, if you want to, and you don’t have to do a thing. Well, you do have to do one thing…and that is to be miserable. Or you can find these people in life, and be like them. Then you have the opportunity to find the most amazing thing…the thing called Joy. If you find anything better, call me collect, but no need to waste your dime…you won’t find anything better.

Review all Michael’s books, tapes and CD’s at michaeljohnsonbooks.com, including Cowboys and Angels, named “Best Non-Fiction Book of 2002” by The Oklahoma Writers’ Federation.

Michael heading for the great Sonny Gould

Michael & Blue

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