Rising Above the Need to Be Needed

In his blog post, How to Inspire Others to Fly, Dan Rockwell shares his thoughts on “what makes helping helpful” in the great leaders’ development of those whom they serve. His message and conclusion is: “Effective helping includes rising above the need to be needed.”

He captures this in a simple story of how baby bluebirds grow from birth to flight in a brief period of three weeks:

Before they are ready to fly, they require constant care and feeding. Eventually they peek at the world through the small round door in their home. Parents fly to the door with grubs and bugs. We hear the young going nuts. But at fledging time, mom and dad shift tactics.

No food: Bluebird parents land at the door WITHOUT food at fledging time. We still hear crazy chirping but the parent pauses and flies away.

Eventually daddy bluebird perches nearby with a juicy meal dangling from his beak. While daddy coaxes the young from the white birch, mommy demonstrates the desired behavior. Over and over she flies from the birch to the house and back to where daddy dangles the bug.

In the beginning, the parents are helping their young grow. At a point, they then shift their pattern to instigate growth in the next state of their development. As a practical example, he writes: “Maybe you’ve been showing up in someone’s office to check-in. Now it’s time for them to show up in your office.”

Rockwell’s message underlines the importance of the need to change in the development cycle. The great leader changes first… “when others are ALMOST ready to fly.” It is at that beautiful moment when learning becomes reality, when helping “rises above the need to be needed.” 

Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!!

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2 Responses to Rising Above the Need to Be Needed

  1. Johnston Beach says:

    “Effective helping includes rising above the need to be needed.” This is a profound insight. The most difficult leadership task and challenge is internal; the need to let go of the need to be needed–to be selfless, not needy. Too often, it is the leader’s need to be needed that prevents growth. They foster dependency and leave behind a weakened organization. Great leaders get beyond that need, unleash others’ potential, and achieve satisfaction through seeing others succeed and exceed them. When leaders leave their organization, if they have done their job well, the organization will be better off for their leaving in that they have prepared a cadre of capable replacements that will not have to spend time getting up to speed but rather will be in a position to accelerate forward.

  2. Joseph Higgins says:

    “Charity is injurious unless it helps the recipient to become independent of it” John D. Rockefeller. The same could be said of many social programs.

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