Become Someone Worth Helping

457569270_434a85ae08_oSome people think that the world is out to get them, and that there’s some kind of organized conspiracy going on by unknown bad guys, to keep them from rising up.

Are they right?

Of course not.

That’s just something that lazy losers think so that they can feel good about themselves, without having to put in the hard work needed to rise up.

Is the opposite thing true then? That the world is a harmonious place, and that everyone wants to help you succeed?

No, that’s not exactly true either. Even though there’s no harm in thinking that. Always think things that benefit you.

Anyway, the world is not out to get you. But at times, certain people are.

A lot of people are dissatisfied with their lives. Some of these people want the same for you — and will want to bring you down to their level. Because they’re unintelligent, they convince themselves that they can make their own situation better by ruining things for you. The typical example of this would be:

  • The stupid, angry, guy who goes out to get into fights with other people.
  • The mean bureaucrat who won’t help you with some small thing, just to spite you.
  • The bouncer, cop, or exam guard who misuses his position by messing with you for no other reason than to feel like he’s a more important person than you are.

Clearly, everyone you meet aren’t going to be cool and friendly people who want to help you.  That’s just the reality of it.


Who Will People Help?

Here’s a basic principle about human nature: We admire the strong and we avoid the weak.

This behavior manifests itself both consciously and unconsciously. We are attracted to the things we think will help us get closer to our goals and improve our “biological value”, and we avoid that which we think will make us weaker.

Consider street beggars. You avoid them, don’t you? Don’t try to bullshit me.

While it is socially correct — in western countries — to help the weak by donating money to charities or giving money to beggars,  most people flinch internally and feel uncomfortable about it.

Why? Because we’re wired to avoid weakness.

Or phrased differently: we go where the value is and avoid that which doesn’t have value.

Pretty straightforward, right?

beggars have no value

Well, obviously everyone does not understand this — beggars are a great example. They provide nothing of value.

Actually, it’s the opposite: They steal value. Because they’re trying to make you feel guilty. They think you’ll help them if they can get you to pity them.

Does this work?

Nope. Never has. Never will.

Now, even though most people are NOT beggars, they will sometimes use the same lousy mindset. They think that they can get people to help them by playing “the guilt card” or by seeking to be pitied.

Of course, this does not work.  As you know, people are NOT attracted to weakness or value-leeching behavior.

There’s also another reason why most people won’t help “weak losers”, and it’s super important, so pay attention: It’s called the drop-in-the-bucket effect.

The drop-in-the-bucket effect states that people will not help someone else unless they think it’ll make a noticeable difference.

Let me give you an example: There have been experiments where two different people begged for money. The first person dressed as a beggar and the second person dressed as a businessman. The businessman was much more successful in his begging because people believed he was serious.

The businessman subcommunicated that he had his shit together. People believed he wanted to help himself, so if they gave him a dollar for a phone call, they knew it would make a difference — because it would fix things for him.

But what if they gave money to the beggar?

It probably wouldn’t make much of a difference at all. Give a dollar to a beggar and you’ll find him in the same spot tomorrow, asking you for another. The root problem would still be there.

So, who will people help?

People Will Help a Hungry Winner

Think of Hannibal Barca, the guy on the elephant in the image up top. He was one of the most skilled leaders ever.  He roamed around Italy undefeated for 15 years straight, during a time when the Romans were at their height of power and supposedly undefeatable in combat.

During this time he had all sorts of bad things happen to him and his army. For example, he lost one of his eyes to a nasty infection. He was stuck in hostile territory and never got any backup (supplies or soldiers) from his own country, Carthage.

Despite all this trouble, none of his soldiers ever rebelled, fled, or committed mutiny. Why?

Because Hannibal understood something incredibly important: How to create a compelling vision.

He supposedly said:

I cannot predict the future and I cannot force any of these men to cooperate with me. But I can tell them how I see it. I can show them my vision of the future — and if they like it they will join me.

Hannibal had a compelling vision of the future — he was a hungry winner. He wanted to conquer Rome and defeat them at their height of power, and he probably would have, if he had received backup at least once during his 15 years in Italy…

…But the council of Carthage didn’t like Hannibal’s ambition. Secretive elites conspired to his defeat. But they did not succeed. Hannibal remained undefeated during his time in Italy.

A question worth asking is: What value is there in having a compelling vision of the future?

And the answer is: Plenty.

One reason that a compelling vision of the future is valuable is because the future is uncertain. And anything that is uncertain or risky is fearsome to most people. Therefore, a compelling vision will help them feel better. And anything that makes someone feel good has value.

Having an empowering vision is synonymous with strength. But you don’t necessarily have to talk about your vision. Embodying it, leading by example, and being a hungry winner is better.

Hannibal Barca did all that brilliantly.

Other Reasons People Want to Help

Just like Hannibal said, you cannot force anyone to help you. The only reason anyone would ever want to help you is because they find value in it.

Sometimes people may want to help you for reasons you cannot even understand yourself. It’s easy to think — or rather unconsciously assume — that other people value the same things you do. But that’s rarely the case.

When Cuz D’Amato, the legendary boxing trainer, decided to mentor the shy and slightly overweight street kid Mike Tyson, he did it for selfish reasons. In fact, he did it for the most selfish reason in the book — the will to live.

…I had no reason to go on. But I have a reason now, because Mike’s here — and he gives me the motivation; I will stay alive, and I WILL watch him become a success, because I will not leave until that happens.

You see, Cuz was ready to die. He was an old man who had lost all interest in living. It was not that he was unhappy or dissatisfied with his life.  In fact, he was directly responsible for creating two world champion boxers: Floyd Patterson and JosĂ© Torres. It was simply that Cuz  felt he had done what he wanted to do…

…Until he was introduced to the thirteen year old Tyson and decided to mentor him.

If that hadn’t happened, Mike Tyson would probably have become a felon who would’ve ended up in prison, or at best, made a semi-decent boxing career.

But Cuz decided to help Tyson — because he saw that Tyson was a diamond in the rough. Tyson was a hungry winner.

Become Someone Worth Helping

So there you have it.

People don’t want to help beggars because they won’t even help themselves. So why should people care about them, if they don’t even care about themselves?

You’ve probably seen the TV series Shark Tank, or Dragon’s Den. The entrepreneurs who come to the show to pitch the venture capitalists on the jury — do you think it would work if they sought to make the venture capitalists pity them?  Would they get any money or help?

Hell no.

You want people to help you?

Then quit being weak and become strong.

Stop leeching value and start providing value.

People will not help you unless they believe it’ll make a difference. They will not want to help you unless they believe you’ll implement their advice.

Become someone with a strong ambition, someone people want to help. Become a “hungry” winner.

 Photo credit: 1 & 2

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  1. Heathenwinds says

    Hey Ludvig, great article. Also your picture looks a whole lot better now.

    In your opinion, what is the best biography for Mike Tyson?

    • Thanks Heathenwinds.

      I am currently reading “Undisputed Truth” as an ePub. I’ve read about half. It’s 650 pages. It’s a GREAT book. One of the best biographies I’ve ever read.

      Other than that, I haven’t read any other book on Tyson. But I’ve been a fan for years.

  2. Paul Rubino says

    Agreed. I’ve given money away so many times that I can’t count. But looking back, it’s almost always to someone I think will actually use it for something other than alcohol and/or drugs. I only want to help people help themselves, not give a handout to some loser that I cannot (and should not) care about.

    I like what Mr. Snake said. People try to make Steve Jobs out to be a bad guy, but truth be told, if you’re in software and your resume says “worked at Apple from XXXX to XXXX,” you look attractive in a job interview. The guy co-created the largest company in the world, some killer products (I’m writing this from my wife’s Mac), and I’ve yet to see someone at an Apple store look like a Home Depot or Sears employee. They look like they want to be there.

    That to me is way more “charitable” than giving money to someone who’s not gonna do anything with it.

    And I also like what G-Freedom says. If I’m gonna sponsor a charity, it will be one that helps people help themselves. Education is a perfect example.

    • Great thoughts Paul!

      And I also like what Mr Snake said about Steve Jobs.

      “That to me is way more “charitable” than giving money to someone who’s not gonna do anything with it.”

      — Exactly.

  3. I refuse point blank to help street beggars because I know it’s a tiny drop in an endless bucket. However, I do try to support organizations working to create a positive change through education etc. I believe this proves your point!

    That being said – I’ve heard endless stories of “rich” beggars. So someone must be helping them somewhere!

    • Yeah, absolutely G.

      Education helps. But supporting (rewarding) weak-ass suckers who have zero interest in personal progress, does not.

      “I’ve heard endless stories of “rich” beggars. So someone must be helping them somewhere”

      –Haha. A friend of mine who read this article recently told me one of those stories. Supposedly it was a “beggar king” in Italy — my friend’s country — who was making $15000+ a month profiting from his little beggar foot soldiers.

  4. I’ve learned those who serve, help, and add value always have influence with those around them. Influence comes by taking the time to serve and help those around us. Great thoughts here!

  5. Marcellus says

    Damn right the weak dont deserve no pity. They aint got what it takes to get down and gritty, they straight shitty

    • Let he who despiseth mere pity and kindness
      Beware him the log that cover his blindness
      From his fellow’s eye a speck he may seize
      And laugh at his brother who pleads on his knees
      At Mammon’s high alter, life spendeth he shameless
      Yet man born of mother may never die blameless.

    • I like the rhyme, Marcellus!

  6. Dan Erickson says

    I love the term “a hungry winner.” I rarely ask others for help, but at some point I may start a “kickstarter” campaign for my books and/or music. Based on my continuous and winning efforts in these two areas it would test the “hungry winner” theory.

  7. Glassbreaker says

    Look here guys, here is how it works!

    The reason a beggar is not helped is because of evolution. It is survival of the fittest (best at adapting ) that is ALWAYS the driving force at play.

    How is the beggar contributing to the evolution of the planet, of the species, of society? He isn’t. And it’s not – as Ludvig says – something we think about, it happens on a subconscious level. So we want nothing to do with him. we Can just FEEL and see that it is BS.

    And also, evolution will not “reward” the beggar because he is not contributing to its progress. Evolution is trying to teach the beggar that what he is doing is wrong and useless but he is closing his eyes to this lesson so he gets no reward. and so it goes.

    If you want to know more you can ask me.

  8. Hey Ludvig! What an insightful post and I would have to say it hits home for me. I used to just help as many people when they want to lose weight, eat better and such but then I realised, there’s only so much I can help them if they don’t want to help themselves. I believe that if I want people to help me, I have to earn it and being strong is one of them.

    Good stuff. Oh and, nice avatar! :)

    • Thanks Aquila!

      Yeah, you — and every other coach out there — are prime examples of this. A coach’s reputation depends largely on credibility and achieving results. But in many “crafts”, fitness being one of them, you just can’t give your own results to someone else. They have to do the work. You can give them the principles, but you cannot force consistency. You cannot magically make that other person a hard worker.

      Thus the importance of choosing motivated clients, given that you are in a position of choosing.

  9. Too bad Tyson didn’t become champ before Cuz died!
    I recently read Tyson’s bio book. The unresponsive truth. It is really good. Have you read it?

    • Hey Martin,
      I have not. But I will some time soon. I actually have it on my list already. Tyson is an incredibly interesting guy. He’s a lot smarter than people give him credit for, his persona is not him.

  10. Ludvig i want to ask you where you get the inspiration to wrote from.

    I am trying to write/blog too, but i am coming up short. I have lots of ideas but i cant yet make it into content or articles if you know what I mean?its like.. i know what it means of course because i am the one with the idea and i write it, but how do i know if others will know?
    Sorry if its a hard question but like, i hope you understand what i mean

  11. As I was reading this, I was thinking about someone I know. He’s had a rough couple of years and all his negativity comes out in how he interacts with people, me included. He’s touchy and angry, but refuses to help himself. I’ve tried several approaches to get him to become better. At the very least, I tried to make him recognize that he has problems, but even that is too much for him. I’m a caring person, but unfortunately, he doesn’t want to help himself. There’s nothing I can do. At the moment, I’ve cut him out because he doesn’t want to become better at all.

  12. Very interesting approach. At some point I believe that we have to be more sensitive towards other people’s problems, but from the other hand is natural that we have to be ‘blind’ at some point. Our potential to help people is limited and therefore I understand that people would give this 1 dollar to a businessman instead of a regular beggar, hopping that their help will have some impact. Good article!

    • I would never, ever give $1 to a “businessman”. It wouldn’t make the slightest difference to him. But then I wouldn’t *give* him anything, ever; I’d expect a return from my money just as he expects a return from his.

      I would give $1 to a hobo any day. Actually I would probably give him $5, because a lousy dollar is hardly worth taking out of my wallet. $5 makes no difference to me, but it makes a difference to him.

    • Thanks Marzena. Interesting site you’ve got, by the way.

      “Our potential to help people is limited”

      — Well put.

  13. Humanity is hardwired to seek value, you’re spot on there. That’s why beautiful people get hired over average looking people. They bring value in so many different ways.

    Where I used to live I had street beggars harassing me literally every evening. I developed a ‘blindness’ to them and even found myself refusing to acknowledge the vast majority because it was the same people, with the same excuses – ‘mate.. I need 50p for the bus..’ – every single day.. the same excuse.

    One day, this youngish looking chap jumped into my line of vision and asked me if I had any change because he wanted to get high. At last! A truthful beggar.

    He provided value in that situation. Honesty. And for once, I didn’t lie when I said I didn’t have enough change.. If I had – I may have given him some for so goddamn blunt. He showed strength in his weakness – however backward it may seem.

  14. Ludvig,

    I think it comes down to vision. “Hannibal had a compelling vision of the future.”

    The beggar can’t see past his next bottle of the cheapest whiskey— and so, we as a society resent it. We think, “C’mon man, if I have to sacrifice and get up for work, you should too!” But when we see someone who has a vision, we’re compelled to help them. And… we enjoy doing it too.


  15. Kickass article Ludvig!

    All I know is this, Steve Jobs never believed in charities. Because it doesn’t change the root problem.

  16. Why isn’t my comment showing up? Are you afraid of people who disagree with you?

  17. “They think you’ll help them if they can get you to pity them.

    Does this work?

    Nope. Never has. Never will.”

    You’re wrong about this. Check this out:

    These people are masters of guilting others. A few of them even make a bunch of money… I just can’t imagine what sort of psychological issues they must have (sociopaths etc) to feel that there’s nothing morally wrong to do what they’re doing, when they are obviously smart people who could do something useful instead.

    Not trying to be a smart-ass. Just saying how it REALLY is.

    • Hiro,
      Sure, it works for a few skilled ones. But it’s still a pathetic profession. I doubt anyone who could do better for themselves would choose to do it. They’re doing it out of necessity or inability, not deliberate choice.

      • I’m going to disagree with both of you. I think most panhandlers are reasonably successful, at least judging from how they appear over and over again, brazenly working the same street corner with the same lies day after day and then trading places with the bum on the next corner. Nor do I think most of them are intelligent or skillful. They succeed by sheer volume of exposure. For instance they might work a Walmart parking lot or a grid-locked intersection at 5 P.M., but at 10 A.M. when traffic is light they don’t waste their time (probably they are mooching at churches or shelters, if they’re even awake).

        The beggars I’ve talked to do never seemed intelligent or capable and were not even convincing liars. They beg for a living because of their character defects, and succeed because there are always a few suckers in every crowd.

        I rarely give anything to a panhandler, but I will usually pick up hitchhikers. They are a very different group, often mentally ill but occasionally quite intelligent (sometimes both) and always interesting – stranded motorists, vagrant lunatics, itinerant con artists, escaped inmates, and occasionally a fairly sane-seeming man who prefers absolute freedom to anything else life can offer. Few if any of them are trying to make money; they are trying to go somewhere, even if they aren’t always clear where that is.

  18. Hi long time no see!

    I loved this piece.

    You will only be able to gain if you dare to risk/sacrifice in my experience.

  19. Henderson says

    I think there actually can be harm in thinking that people are out to help you. Some people may scam you and stuff like that, there are some nasty dudes out there!

    I also think it makes you disappponted. If you have no expectations you can’t get upset :) so thats what i do.

  20. Helping other people is a kind of interpersonal transaction. People help other people for many reasons: to feel good, to reduce guilt, to be owed a favor, to build a relationship, to better someone else’s life, to be an example to others, to impress people, to get a chance to talk your ear off, maybe even to get some direct and tangible return. If you want someone to help you, you should be able to discern what they want in return, and do it. No one helps a parasite twice and some will let their friends know what an ungrateful jerk you are. If what a giver wants is inappropriate, don’t even /allow/ them to help you.

    Incidentally, you should also know what /you/ are expecting in return when you help someone else.

    Often it’s a bad idea to directly ask someone for help, especially if it’s a stranger and you are asking for a significant sacrifice. This puts pressure on them and nobody likes to be pressured. If it’s a trivial favor like advice or if it’s someone that knows you well, sometimes it’s okay to get right to the point. But in general, it’s better to let people know what you need and what would happen if “someone” helped out. Given a chance to make a decision at their leisure and without pressure, many people will volunteer assistance on their own. If not, follow Abgrund’s Tenth Commaxim and Shut the Fuck Up. Ask and ye shall not receive.

    Contrary to some opinions, many people do help the weak, even if they don’t see any potential in the recipient. Pity is a natural human emotion, and givers do get some kind of reward – maybe just feeling that they’ve done a good deed. Beggars often do quite well for themselves by appearing pitiful. This strategy, however, is only good for trivial, one-time transactions. You certainly won’t make (or keep) any friends by repeatedly imposing on their pity. Nor will you keep any self-respect: If you constantly portray yourself to others as helpless and pitiful, you will soon believe it yourself. Not that any readers here probably need to be told that.

    • Great comment, Abgrund.

      ” If you want someone to help you, you should be able to discern what they want in return, and do it. No one helps a parasite twice and some will let their friends know what an ungrateful jerk you are”

      Right on.

      • Thanks Ludvig. That was originally part of the “Ten Commaxims” but was edited, as the piece was already…. “sufficiently” long.

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