Stop infantilizing the people you want to help

Mallory Palisch has a philosophy about social work that might sound radical: Let your beneficiaries fail. The co-founder of Reach University, which provides free access to teaching degrees, Mallory highlights the importance of “benign neglect” in promoting genuine, long-term success for beneficiaries. Because here’s the thing: helping people shouldn’t always feel good. If it does, you might be serving yourself more than the people you’re trying to help.

Mallory argues that social entrepreneurs should focus on removing unfair obstacles to success, rather than over-providing. In order to sustain long-term growth and achievement, your beneficiaries need to work hard. And you need to let them. This approach ensures that individuals have a fair chance to prove themselves, promoting a true sense of dignity and accomplishment in personal achievement.

Ultimately, recognizing the role of struggle in personal growth is crucial for social entrepreneurs. By allowing individuals to overcome challenges—and even allowing them to fail—you can help people unlock their own success, and own it.