I like being independent. Throughout my life, I have said, “I can do it myself.” (They weren’t my first words, but they were close.)
I feel a sense of accomplishment when I master something. When I was younger, it was piano lessons, then swimming, then bicycling. In school, it was reading, and then math, and in college it was programming.
I loved the thrill of mastery, especially after practicing.
As an adult, I came late to the fun of ballroom dancing. I needed to learn via teaching and coaching. (I used a lot of coaching for ballroom dancing.) And, I wanted to do it by myself. It wasn’t until I thought it through that I realized two critical things about dancing: you dance with a partner, and you can’t see yourself. I needed to ask for help, both from my partner and from my coach.
I now think about asking for help for many things:
- Heavy doors, so I can roll on through.
- Lifting something to either get it down or lift it up when it’s above my head.
- Reviewing my writing, so I know if I have accomplished my goal(s).
I took time to be able to ask for help with things I thought I should know how to do or be able to do, such as putting my briefcase up in the overhead bin on an airplane. I’m short, and I swear those bins are getting higher. And, when I do ask, people are delighted to help me.
Asking for help is a gift for other people. It’s not a sign of weakness, although I might ask for help because I’m weak (such as not being able to maintain my balance when opening a heavy door). Asking for help is a sign I recognize my capabilities and my current reality. And that my capabilities might not be up to what I need for my current reality. That recognition is a place of strength.
I have noticed that asking for help is a way to open a conversation. Not from a place of weakness, but from a place of strength. People respect that strength, that ability to see your own reality. They respond to it. And, if you’re willing, you can start a conversation with the asking for help.
I used to think that help had to be reciprocal, right then and there. It doesn’t. You can pay it forward to someone else, not immediately pay it back.
Are you asking for help? Can you think about where you can practice? It’s a gift, one that keeps on giving.
- When is “Let’s Not” the Right Answer?
- What’s Your (Beer) Emergency?