I’m sure you are familiar with The Golden Rule:
Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.
There’s a reason that, in one form or another, this rule appears in almost every spiritual tradition – because helping other people the way you wish they would help you is the right thing to do. If you spell the word “Golden” backwards you get “Nedlog.” The Nedlog Rule is The Golden Rule in reverse. It’s an essential corollary because in order for you to be able to serve others, you must periodically ask others to help you. The Nedlog Rule says:
Be willing to ask others to help you in all those ways that you would be willing to help them.
In healthcare we ask “who cares for the caregiver?” It’s an important question because, as is often said, you cannot pour out of an empty pitcher. It’s wisdom as ancient as the I Ching, which says that just as every now and then a well needs to be taken out of service and relined, so too a person needs to periodically be renewed and refilled.
In our Lone Ranger culture, we are often reluctant to ask for the help we need. We mistakenly think it’s a sign of weakness to ask for help. But actually, the reverse is true. It takes a strong person to ask others for help.
Think of how much more positive and productive our organizations – and our families – would be if everyone were to practice The Nedlog Rule:
- Passive-aggressive behavior would be replaced by people openly and honestly confronting the issues and discussing their differences.
- Martyr complex would be replaced by people asking for help before they become overwhelmed, and asking for a break before they reached the breaking point.
- Chronic complaining would be replaced by people asking for help to fix the problems that can be fixed and for support to cope with the predicaments that are beyond immediate solution (a restatement of the Serenity Prayer).
- Burnout would be replaced by the sort of collective spirit one sees in a support group, where people who are facing intractable problems reach out to one another to share hope, inspiration, and courage – and a culture where it’s almost impossible to distinguish between helper and helpee.
- Most important, people would dream bigger dreams, take on more daring risks, and make more substantial commitments knowing that they didn’t have to do it all alone.
Of course, people are more likely to be enthusiastic about helping you if you have first cultivated a reputation for being willing to help others.
Here’s the paradox, and the best part of the whole equation: Any time one person reaches out to help another, two people are helped. You cannot help someone else without the act in some way also helping you as well. In AA it’s referred to as the principle of mutuality: helping one helps two. Always.
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Joe Tye is Founder and CEO of Values Coach Inc., which helps client organizations foster a culture of ownership and promote values-based life and leadership skills at every level.