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Stop Saving People!

Episode #613

Do you feel good when you’re solving other people’s problems?

If you find yourself gaining some worth from helping other people, it might be a good time to check in and see if you have a Savior Complex. 

It’s important to let other people solve their own issues, because if you don’t, you may be hindering their growth and holding them back.

Instead of focusing on helping other people, focus on yourself so you can more effectively lead with love. 

In this episode, you will learn how saving others affect your relationship and what you can do to stop saving others so you can save yourself.

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Head over to our BONUS page for special access to some of the deeper tactics and techniques we’ve developed at The Powerful Man. 

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Doug: Hello, gentlemen, welcome back to yet another episode of the TPM show. Tim, how are you doing, brother?

Tim: I’m doing very well. Always a pleasure to be here with you and the listeners. How about yourself?

Doug:  I’m doing, great man. I had a sauna session. I have a sauna here in my house. I was in there journaling and getting some stuff done, reflecting a little bit, if you will, on the last week. I’m not sure what date this comes out. But for me, it’s mid-week as we record this. It was really great to reflect. I had an amazing conversation with my five-year-old son last night. Well, you know, he’s only five, but he really opened up to me about some things, some struggles, if you will. And he doesn’t like talking, like most people, about those things. But he really let me into his heart and his mind, and what was going on for him. And I just felt really honored.

Tim: Wow, must feel amazing. Just to connect with him in that way.

Doug:   It is. And just to be there for him, so he has that outlet. Now, of course, it always makes my wife jealous. She wouldn’t say that, I don’t think. but, you know, he opens up to me, and he chooses to open up to me. And so as men, we always want to be the lighthouse, we talk about that a lot on TPM. We always want to be the lighthouse guiding a ship to shore, being the safe harbor for the people you love. And when you get feedback like that from your son, you know, he’s only five years old, you get that feedback just through his actions, that’s powerful. Makes you feel good. And just reflecting on your year, your week or just reflecting on the night before. You know, it really just fills my soul.

Tim: I bet. Well, on the theme of you reflecting so much, it reminds me of something that I would like to bring to the table, Mr. Dougie Fresh? So, yesterday, I was in the gym having a PT session. And a mutual friend, friend of the gym owner, the guy that was training me, and of myself as well, walked into the gym. And naturally, you know how it goes, he used to be a trainer, I used to be a trainer. And you know when clients are trying to keep people talking so they can buy a little bit more rest. I absolutely did that.

So, this guy started to talk to us started to share how one of his friends from Poland wanted to come over to the UK and do some dirt biking. Now, as he was explaining the situation, the reason why he came into the gym was because the gym owner, the guy that’s training me, is very familiar with dirt biking. He’s done a lot of it in north Wales, and he understands a lot of the legalities.

So he wanted to get some advice so he could go back to his friend in Poland and tell him what to watch out for, because there are some crazy laws in the UK, as I learned yesterday, one of them being that if you get caught on a particular path twice, the second time that you get caught, they actually confiscate your vehicle and they crush it. So obviously, you want to avoid that happening. But as he was describing and talking about all the different things to consider, this mutual friend caught himself getting sucked into trying to solve this person’s problems. And he stopped and he actually said, hey, actually, you know, this isn’t my problem. This is his problem. So I’ll leave you to talk to him about all this stuff, and we’ll leave it there. Just immediately switched the topic of conversation. It made me really reflect in that moment.

I mean, it was such a subtle thing that he did, but it made me reflect in that moment – where am I taking on other people’s problems as my own? Because as business owners, we’re so used to solving problems day in, day out. It can be so easy when we talk to people, be it when I speak to my partner Amelia, or people on the team, or family, or whoever it may be, it can be very easy to fall into that mindset of listening to solve versus listening to connect. And you just want them to get to the root of what the issue is, and you want to then- the tendency I used to have was to throw a lot of suggestions and tell them what they need to do, almost so I could feel a bit of significance as well, I think, in hindsight, and feel like I was saving them.

And it really got me thinking about the idea of, what problems am I taking on from other people that I don’t need to, and how much easier would my life be if I really focused on my own problems and remembered what were my problems and what weren’t? But then, also, the idea of making sure you lead and don’t save, you know, taking on people’s problems is often a symptom of you trying to save them. And that isn’t what a WOLF does. A WOLF is wise, open, loving and fierce. And we talk a lot to the men in the community about lead, don’t save. Typically, when guys are in DEER, they want to save the situation, and they usually do it from a place of wanting to feel better about themselves. So, anyway, let’s just dive into it, reflect upon it together and see what you think.

Doug: Yeah, you know, this is so common, right? As businessmen, as business leaders, what we do is solve problems. And I know for myself, Tim, when you and I were talking about Q4 of last year, I did a lot of what I would call self-sacrificing. And when I reflect on that, you know, taking on too much, taking on other people’s issues and trying to solve them- I’m good at it, you’re good at it, the guys listening to this, you guys are probably really good at solving problems. And we have to be careful of getting into what I call a savior complex, where we get into this mode where we know we’re either smarter, stronger, more durable, whatever it is that we tell ourselves, and we believe, okay, because of that, therefore, I must save or solve these people’s problems or do more, right?

If I’m stronger, I should be able to help people more. If I’m smarter, I should be able to help people more, and then we do it. And oftentimes, especially in a marriage, this is the exact opposite of what your wife wants. She wants a man who’s going to listen to her, validate her,, use the hidden motives technique to make her feel seen and heard, not solve her problems. And as guys, we fall into this all the time. Our wife or our partner starts complaining about something, and immediately we go into fix-it mode. And this causes a lot of distance and a lot of disconnect for the relationship and for the marriage, because the wife does not want that to happen.

And oftentimes, the woman doesn’t know how to explain it to the man, or the man doesn’t get it, and they move forward with this disconnect. Now, the same thing can happen in your business, right? I’m guilty of this for sure. If somebody brings a problem to the table, if the guy can’t figure this out, I go into this mode almost reflexively, you know – I’ll do it, I’ll take care of it. Because I know how to do the web programming enough to get it done. I know how to do the sales functions, or the marketing functions, or the operations functions well enough, or I also just know, I’ll figure it out. So I’ll just do it, you know. Don’t worry about it, I’ll take care of it. And what happens for me, at least, is then I’ve got this laundry list of other people’s problems, other people’s issues that are put up on my plate. And now I get stressed out, I get anxiety because I still got my stuff, I still have my stuff to worry and be concerned about. And more often than not, when I sit down and am conscious of it,  I realize that I am hindering the other person from their growth, their growth potential. And that’s not fair.

Tim:  Yeah, no one wins. You don’t win. They don’t win. Like you said, you rob them of growth that they get to experience, be it through either finding a solution or whatever it may be. There’s many ways in which their growth may occur. But ultimately, it just slows everybody down, as well. I was on the Office Hours call yesterday, the AM. Office hours call, which is a call that happens every week is led by myself, you, or Arthur, and it’s for all the active guys in the AM to attend and bring the biggest challenge and go through it. And one of the guys was sharing how he’s basically been doing this, and he’s been doing it work, taking on people’s problems. And he’s known and relied upon as that guy.

Now, for a lot of years, he wore that as a badge of honor. Right? He thought it was a good thing. It gave him a level of significance, if that was a good reputation to have, but it wreaked havoc at home with his wife, because his wife would watch him take on everybody else’s problems, say yes to everybody else, which then meant he had no time or energy for her or the kids. So, therefore, she’s seeing him choose other people over her, which obviously created a lot of division between them. But he would also do it with his wife as well. he would listen to her to solve instead of listening to create an environment where she feels seen and heard, and also desired, this big part of the hidden motives technique, as you know. But when he realized this, and he realized, I mean, literally a light bulb went off for him yesterday on the Office Hours call, you could just see the weight lifted off his shoulders. Once he realized one, what he was doing, two, why he was doing it, and three, how to just stop it- Because you really can just stop doing it, there’ll be an urge there for you. But you can stop it, you literally can flick the switch. And the lightness, the weight lifted off this guy’s shoulders was visible. It was huge.

Doug: I bet it was, you know, it’s interesting, when we actually realize we don’t have to be the savior, we actually determine that our identity was actually much stronger than that. What I mean by that is, you know, for us, if we focus on our identity of being a savior, or the identity of being the guy that solves all the problems, we get to realize, or we lose within ourselves, our ability to grow in other areas. Because what happens is, when we’re confronted with somebody who can solve their own problems, it can make you as a man feel less than, or if your wife doesn’t want you to solve the problems, or somebody at work doesn’t want to, it creates disconnection. And that becomes a real issue.

So, like you were talking about, this guy at the gym, when you’re working out, realize, hey, this is not my problem. You know, get this monkey off my back, don’t put your monkey on my back, is what we talk about in business. It’s a common thing in leadership. Right? As a leader, don’t allow somebody to walk into your office, virtually or otherwise, take their monkey, their problem, and give it to you. That’s something I talk about whenever I hire somebody for any team that I’m working on. If you’re going to come to me with a problem, come to me with three possible solutions there. I’ll help you decide upon those solutions, but don’t leave a problem at my desk. I’m not available for that. Like I said, transparently, last quarter, I allowed that to happen, and with the craziness of what was going on to make this movement work, I felt like it had to happen. And you know, sometimes that does, there’s different seasons for things. So, as we wrap this up, Tim, what are a couple things that men can do today, to get them out of the cycle?

Tim:  First of all, recognize that you’re in it. Like, if this resonates with you, then I would take some time to sit down and reflect. Listening to this podcast in the gym, or in the car, or whatever it may be, just isn’t enough. So I would make a commitment right now to set aside some time to reflect, and actually look at how this pattern is affecting you. Right? You know, you always say, show me your calendar, I will show you your priorities. Well, pull your calendar up, have a look at it. How have you been spending your time? What problems are you solving that really you don’t need to be solving, that aren’t yours? And whose problems are they?

So, to become aware of where you’re starting from is the first thing. Lean into why you’re doing it as well. Maybe what you’ve heard on this podcast hits the nail on the head, the idea of being the savior, the idea of feeling important, the idea of feeling needed, maybe the rush and the thrill that you get from all those things as well, right? So, you don’t need absolute, perfect clarity on that. Just find a level of clarity that feels true for you, and you’ll understand what that means as you do it. And then, the third piece is after you’ve got the what and the why, is to move to the how.

So how do you shift this? How are you going to act differently next time? Like, if you were to look at the problems, like I said, and realize who should be solving those problems, then what’s going to happen in this coming week when they come to you with the next problem? Maybe you’re going to just simply respond with what Doug said. Hey, next time, I want you to bring me three solutions to this problem. Maybe one of the ways you respond is say no to them and let them know why you’re saying no, because you realize that taking on everybody else’s problems is robbing you of performing at the level and doing things for the business, let’s say, that you need to do in order to help the business, including that person, reach his goal so everybody can win.

So, I’ve got to say no on this occasion, but I’d love to help you. So, if you could bring me three solutions on Friday, 10am, we can sit down and work through them. Come up with a game plan. You’re smart enough, I’m sure. And then just stick to it. Just stick to it. But like you always say Mr. Dougie Fresh, at the moment of insight, take massive action. If this resonates, do not leave this podcast without committing at least some time to reflect on this. Regardless of whether you go through those three steps, at least reflect and break this pattern.

Doug:  Love it. There you go, guys, from Tim The Powerful Man Matthews himself. Gentlemen, as we do say, as Tim says as well, take action. Don’t just go from one podcast to another. No need for educational masturbation, as I like to call it. I used to do it too. So, take action. Take some insights here. We’re here for you guys. And as I always say, have an amazing day, guys. We’ll see you next time on TPM.