A good friend recently shared a Ram Dass quote on Twitter:
It's a great koan for accepting your fellow man, but it's an excellent way to look at other entrepreneurs. Let's be honest: If you've spent any significant time around other businesspeople, then you likely have judged their actions. We even judge the decisions of people we haven't met - Theranos' Elizabeth Holmes being a common recent example.
However, successful entrepreneurship is impossible without a community of support. If you truly want to help a fellow entrepreneur with your insight and strength, then put judgments aside and take this approach.
See who they are: Sometimes we want to help people to support a void within our own lives, whether it is the desire to "make a difference" or the pride of "helping someone early on". The problem is that our own needs can get projected onto a person who isn't ready for our help or, worse, who we aren't equipped to help in the first place.
The best way to do this is to understand that we aren't meant to help everyone. It really comes down to you. As I said recently, "it's all about your needs, not theirs. The real root of your feelings is based on the intention you had in the first place."
Accept where they are: "Potential" is one of the most dangerous words to people like myself who love helping people move forward in their lives. Realized potential takes two important steps: Someone realizing his own potential and someone prioritizing growth over safety.
Sometimes the best gift you can give someone else is accepting where they are at the moment. I once had a colleague who, for the umpteenth time, began promising all the great business she was going to create for us as a team. I stopped her mid-sentence, grabbed her hand with both of mine, looked her straight in the eyes and said, "When you're ready." That was perhaps the best gift I could give her - and I never heard from her again.
Hear what they really want: Years ago, an associate asked a successful person: "How can I be where you are at, but without all the hardship?" I immediately took a giant step away from the associate as the guest looked at him shocked. Today, however, I respect my associate's honesty.
It's quite OK that someone doesn't want to work as hard to reap the benefits you have in your career. The problem is that, within the shame of cultural norms, people aren't always straight up about that - and, unlike my associate, they may fear offending you. Unfortunately, that could mean they are saying one thing but meaning another thing entirely.
If you are guiding someone, then it is your job to decode what they are truly saying. One great way to do so is to give them a small piece of advice, then recommend they loop back to you later. Has their situation changed? Have they taken your advice to heart? Their actions will tell you where they are truly at.