The art of helping

This quote by Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard truly encapsulates the true art of helping:

“If One Is Truly to Succeed in Leading a Person to a Specific Place, One Must First and Foremost Take Care to Find Him Where He is and Begin There. This is the secret in the entire art of helping.

Anyone who cannot do this is himself under a delusion if he thinks he is able to help someone else. In order truly to help someone else, I must understand more than he–but certainly first and foremost understand what he understands.

If I do not do that, then my greater understanding does not help him at all. If I nevertheless want to assert my greater understanding, then it is because I am vain or proud, then basically instead of benefiting him I really want to be admired by him.

But all true helping begins with a humbling.

The helper must first humble himself under the person he wants to help and thereby understand that to help is not to dominate but to serve, that to help is a not to be the most dominating but the most patient, that to help is a willingness for the time being to put up with being in the wrong and not understanding what the other understands.”

About ericadhawan

Writer about women, leadership and movement. Currently at Harvard and MIT.
This entry was posted in leadership and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The art of helping

  1. Stew says:

    great quote, erica! do you know the source?

  2. ericadhawan says:

    it’s by Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard in his personal writings. Thanks Stew! Hope all is well.

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