Don’t Make the Job of Those Who Want to Help You Harder


Next year Mrs. Groovy and I plan to put our house on the market. We want to downsize a little and move closer to our family in Raleigh.

From our perspective, selling a house entails more than just finding a competent realtor. Our job is to make the realtor’s job as easy as possible. For instance, over the past year, we’ve made two strategic upgrades. We remodeled a bathroom, and we replaced the upstairs carpet with nice hardwood floors.

Did we need to make these upgrades? Not really. The bathroom’s tub was looking a little tired, but overall the bathroom was fine. Likewise with the carpet. Yes, its high-traffic areas needed a good cleaning, but overall it was still very presentable. What the bathroom and the carpet lacked was the wow factor. And that’s the key takeaway. Mrs. Groovy and I didn’t look at the bathroom and the carpet from a utility perspective; we looked at them from a realtor’s perspective. Would they make our realtor’s job of selling our house easier or harder? Since the answer to that question was harder, they were replaced with extreme prejudice.

Now let’s suppose that Mrs. Groovy and I are the home sellers from hell. We don’t give a crap about the realtor’s comfort. He works for us, not the other way around. And let’s further suppose that the carpet with the yucky traffic areas and the bathroom with the tired tub weren’t replaced. They’re staying put in all their dreary glory. And, finally, let’s suppose that Mrs. Groovy and I inform our realtor of the following:

  1. Don’t ask us to paint anything or make sure the house is in tip-top shape. We’re not putting any more money into this house. If something looks drab or works poorly, too bad. It’s the next guy’s problem. And…
  2. We don’t have time to clean this house or be extra vigilant when it comes to Groovy Cat’s litter box. If potential home buyers frown upon our lack of tidiness or the smell of cat poop wafting through the air, they can lump it.

How likely, given this miserable assistance, would our realtor be able to sell our house for the going rate? If the typical house in our neighborhood sold for $100 a square foot, it’s doubtful he would get anything close to that. He might be able to wrangle a sale for $75 a square foot—if he’s lucky.

“Okay, Mr. Groovy. I get it. When you’re selling your house you have to make the realtor’s job as easy as possible. But I’m not selling my house. I don’t even have a house. So why did I just waste five minutes of my life reading your freakin’ post?”

I’m glad you asked.

The above lesson applies just as equally to life and getting ahead financially. Remember: despite all the rotten people in this world, there are tons of people who want to help you. And they’re everywhere. They’re in your family, your circle of friends, your church, your computer—they’re even in your government. In fact, I would bet that for every scoundrel who wants to see you fail, there are ten people who want to see you succeed.

You just have to make the job of these caring people easier.

Case in point. You’re unemployed. But you’re healthy, have a great work ethic, and just passed a certification exam for PHP programming. This is awesome. Your quest for employment is golden. In all likelihood, you won’t need anyone’s help finding a job. But if you did, you’ve given the caring people in your life—be they family, friends, or job recruiters—a lot to work with.

But what if you’re healthy and have a great work ethic, but have no skills?

Okay, not an optimal situation. But caring people still have plenty to work with.

But what if you’re healthy, lack skills, and have a lousy work ethic?

You’re making it tougher. But there’s still hope.

But what if you’re healthy, lack skills, have a lousy work ethic, and a revoked driver’s license?

Whoa, this is getting rough. Caring people will now have to find you an entry-level job that is close to public transportation.

But what if you’re sickly, lack skills, have a lousy work ethic, a revoked driver’s license, and a felony conviction?

This is bad. We may have reached the point where you’re beyond help.

Okay, groovy freedomists, I think you get my point. The takeaway here isn’t complicated. Always ask yourself this one simple question: Am I making the job of those who want to help me, harder or easier? And if the answer is harder, you gotta change. You gotta work on your character, your affability, your lackluster job skills—whatever it is that’s impeding the helpful hands of others. You do that—you make yourself easier to help—and you’ll be amazed at how helpful your fellow Americans can be.

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  1. Great observation. I learned long ago that at the end of the day the thing that matters most is relationships. The more you focus on making things easier for others – the more you focus on adding value to their life – the more you get in return. Good relationships are a wonderous thing!

    • Mr. Groovy

      Hey James, that’s a great way of looking at it. It really is all about relationships. It all boils down to this: give and you will receive. (Where have I heard this before?) Great wisdom. I just wish more people wouldn’t lose sight of it. Thank you, my friend, for making it more clear.

  2. A professional can only do so much and it is much easier to work with clients that work with you. I’ve found that a lot of people are friendly and helpful, but you have to work with them too. They can’t do your push-ups for you.

    • Mr. Groovy

      We try to look at things as a joint venture. For best results you’ve got to meet professionals half way. That goes for friends, or anyone who is trying to help you.