Fortnight of Transition, Day 1: Overcoming Learned Helplessness

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September 9, 2020-

A fortnight is a period of two weeks. There are about that many days until the September Equinox (Autumnal/Vernal). In this time, I wish to look at several themes that have impacted or are impacting my life and those around me.

As I edge closer to retirement and to making my own determination, as to which activities to which I devote time and energy, I have had to begin to find positive and helpful ways to address those who come to me with outstretched hands. Deflecting requests for money is easy enough. I have to budget what I have, in the way of financial resources, so as to both support myself and to fulfill some plans which I feel I have earned.

Time and energy are more problematic. No one can, in good conscience, refuse the legitimate requests for assistance with finding resources that come, sometimes randomly, from those who believe themselves to be at the end of their ropes. If one agrees to offer limited assistance, and uses the Internet to connect start-ups with potential benefactors, the result is usually win-win-and does not end up being a time and energy pit.

The key is to use the correct search terms, so as to not waste time on dead ends. For example, in linking an entrepreneur, in one of several African countries, to an entity that can provide seed money grants, the best search term is “Organizations that help marginalized communities in Africa”. I used this yesterday, and was able to forward a link to three appreciative entrepreneurs, who have imagined themselves to be in dire straits.

My message to such entrepreneurs is this: You have the skills and intelligence to make your dreams happen. Europeans and North Americans have done a bad job, in many cases, of giving the impression that our resources can lift all boats. That is seldom true, on an individual basis. It is by pooling resources, while simultaneously reminding the individuals seeking assistance that they can and should establish their own contacts with helpful organizations, that the most meaningful change can happen.

I am always glad to guide people to the proper resources, but I will no encourage and foster the sense of helplessness that only drags down both entrepreneur and advocate.