A couple of months ago I read a wonderful and inspiring book, Nothing Changes Until You Do, by Mike Robbins. There was so much in that book that I really took to heart and I really need to read through it again – it was THAT good. One thing in particular really struck me, and it was the chapter titled “Ask For Help”. This chapter inspired me because it is something that I need to hear, repeatedly and loudly. I suck at asking for help, and I know that many of you do, as well. We have this belief that no one wants to help us. That we need to be independent and do as much as we can for ourselves. And, while that last bit might be true, the first part is so far from the truth.
Mike opens that chapter with a question:
“How many of you like helping other people?”
He says that no matter where he is speaking, when he asks that question almost everyone will raise their hand. Yet, when he asks his second question:
“How many of you love asking other people for help?”
only about 10 percent of the people raise their hands. Did that hit home for you yet? We ALL love helping other people, but almost none of us like asking someone else for help. He points out that there are many reasons we may not want to ask for help, including what I’ve already mentioned, but also the fear that if we ask for help someone will say no, or that they won’t do it right, that they will disappoint us.
But, how about this. How about if we looked at asking for help as giving a gift. Almost everyone enjoys being asked for help, and we all know that when someone asks us for help it makes us feel good, it makes us feel important, it makes us feel useful; asking for help is like giving a gift. It is telling someone who you trust them enough to provide for you in this small way. Are there those who will take advantage of your gift and expect something of you in return? Well, yes. So, that just means that you may want to be a little careful about who you ask and for what. Mike gives some great advice on his blog about how to approach asking for help in way that provides more freedom and confidence in the outcome. It’s definitely worth a read.
This semester I asked for Disability Accommodations at school. I was hesitant at first and really wondered how easy it would be to deal with instructors regarding my accommodations (most of which are pretty simple requests). However, I was shocked at the results. Not only were my instructors happy to comply with my requests, they each suggested other things that they might be able to do to help me, or at least asked if there were other ways they could help me. Seeing this, I realize that I gave them each a gift. I asked for their help and what I found out was that I gave them a gift. Because of these requests, I know that my semester will go easier than it would have otherwise, I will have less stress, and I will have a better relationship with each of those instructors all because I asked for their help.
How do you feel about asking for help? What tips do you have to make it a little easier? Are there certain people you know you can ask for anything?