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#21 of Blogging with Friends

I’ve received lots of good advice over the years, from friends, colleagues, family. We don’t always recognise good advice when we’re given it, but it usually sinks in. Eventually. The first piece of advice I was given in my first full-time job was from a colleague, who never really took his own advice. But I heard it, and at critical times, I was able to take it. “No-one is indispensable.”

I think that the context at the time was about being sick and taking time off work, or going home at a reasonable time. He pointed out that I should look around at all the people who worked with me, and that if something was important, it could always get done. I took that advice later on in my career – it helped me to learn to delegate, for example. Of course, it wasn’t always true. But when it was, it helped.

That was similar to very important advice I was given about 15 years later, when I was told* that it is okay to ask for help. It’s very similar to the idea of being indispensable, but a lot broader too. And it allows for an admission of weakness or vulnerability, something that was perhaps easier to do in my personal life than in my first full-time job as a young woman surrounded by high achievers. Or maybe it’s easier to admit weakness or vulnerability or frailty as we grow as human beings, because we have a more confident sense of who we are? Asking for help doesn’t mean we are inadequate or can’t cope. It means we recognise what we can and can’t do, it means we love and trust others enough to show our vulnerability, and admit we need help. Being too proud to ask for help is often held up as a virtue. I think that it is born out of fear – fear to show vulnerability, to put our faith in others, to admit we need others, and to risk rejection. So remember, ask for help. The idea of it is hard to do. But it’s really not that difficult. Try it. You might be surprised by the rewards.

* I can’t remember who told me this. It was a friend online – possibly Izzie or Sarahg or Mary or any of dozens of others. To whoever it was, thank you.

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