“The only mistake you can make is not asking for help.”
— Sandeep Jauhar
Asking for help is quite the obstacle for many of us who are naturally independent and tend to be self-reliant. It seems to be a common denominator with the independent minded that struggle with and even suffer from our inability to ask for help. We are good, even great, at helping others and even telling other people, “if you need help, just ask me. I’m always willing to help.” But we don’t follow our own advice in reverse. We falsely think that because we can do one or two things extremely well that we can do all things extremely well and that we don’t need help. Nothing could be further from the truth.
There are a number of reasons we don’t choose to ask for help. One is that we think asking for help makes us look weak and we want to remain strong or at least give off the image that we are on top of things and in control. Second is that we possess a level of pride and that pride drives us to be refuse someone else the chance to be useful. Third is that we like to think we have all the answers even when we know deep down that we don’t. Sometimes, not asking for help keeps us struggling, suffering, and even sacrificing unnecessarily. Help is never in short supply. What’s in short supply are people courageous and humble enough to say, “you know what, I’m sinking over here; I need to be rescued, please help”.
How do I know? Because I’m an independent person too. Maybe it is my Texas upbringing. Maybe it is being the oldest child in my family and always feeling as though I was the only one called up to get things done. I like to do everything on my own, by myself. If there is something to be done, I’m more likely to do it, just without the help of others. I have in the past made decisions involving other people and not stopped one minute to check with them to see if they are okay with it. I have always felt I could handle everything myself and even if it was difficult, I could struggle through until I came up with some solution or way out. Crisis and upheaval were my element and seemed to never be in short supply.
The problem with not asking for help though is that after a while doing it all yourself gets old and you get tired and feel perpetually exhausted. The problem too is that some struggles are too big to bear on your own and you will break if you don’t seek help. Admitting that you can no longer do everything by yourself is a huge slap to your pride but you and everyone around you will be better for it. Some things are so much bigger than you that you will be forced to tell someone else that their assistance is appreciated or you’ll settle for staying stuck. The cost of not asking is too big a price to pay for the relief.
No matter how successful, powerful, smart, important, or accomplished you are, you are going to need people to make it through life. We are by nature relational beings. We were created to be social creatures, interacting with other social creatures. But society has driven these messages of fear into our heads. “You can’t trust people”. “People don’t want to help you”. “Everyone is too busy trying to solve their own problems; you should be doing the same”. “Do you want to risk your reputation to look weak?”. On and on these message go. To an extent, people are not perfect and do make mistakes — huge ones, but there are some good people in the world who are happy to help if you would only ask.
The most successful people in the world ask for advice, seek feedback, soak up the insights of others, and obtain help when they need it. No great company or organization is a one-man show. It involves people. It takes people to make it go. If you want to reach your dreams and goals, stop asking for permission and start asking for help. Ask God for help — lots of it. Ask people for help — lots of it. You will be surprised that God is always willing to help those who ask for it and people are beyond happy, even thrilled, to help. They feel honored when you ask.
Ask yourself what do you want in life, where do you want to go and how do you want to get there. Once you ask and answer those questions as well as you can, be willing, humble, and courageous to ask for the help to get there. And yes, asking for help is a courageous act. Life itself is a continuous process of asking, giving, and receiving, and as a result, we all make progress.
“Be strong enough to stand alone, smart enough to know when you need help, and brave enough to ask for it.”