A couple of weeks ago winter finally came to the North West and we had a weekend of snow – well to be precise, an inch of the white stuff fell on Saturday evening, much to the delight of the kids. On the Sunday I took the opportunity of heading out in Lara, my old Land Rover Defender. We took the dog for a walk at one of the local reservoirs, the car park is approached by a relatively steep hill and was covered in compacted snow. Having had a bit of a slip and slide I decided that discretion was the better part of valour and parked at the top. As we walked down with the dog we rounded the corner to see a chap stood beside his Land Rover Freelander, wife in the driving seat, 2 kids and the dogs in the back, car mats strewn around the front tyres. The car was sideways and clearly going nowhere fast – other than back down the hill. “Morning!” I said “we’ve just had a bit of a game with my old defender up the road, snow is a nightmare isn’t it!?” or words to that effect. His response “mmm yes a bit tricky, car is beginning to overheat too!” Then to his wife “right let me jump in and have another go!” We offered to push, but he declined. We watched him for a bit, exchanged appreciative and encouraging comments, but given that he didn’t want a push and I couldn’t tow him out there was not a right lot I could do – so we proffered our ‘good lucks’ and carried on walking.
On a separate occasion a month or so back I was off up to check on my sheep when I bumped into the young farmer, Andy, who has helped me enormously and who looks after some of my sheep for me. He was gathering a flock of around 40 ewes together in order to shift them a couple of miles up the road onto new pasture. It was just him, his ‘2 wheel drive’ 4 wheel drive truck (the prop shaft was bust) and a sheep dog that has never seen One Man and His Dog, clearly role modelling his performance on a wolf pack given the success of his ‘rounding’ up. I asked him if he needed ‘a lift’ (Northern for a hand) “Aye Richard – can do if you fancy, no bother though!” Well it then took the two of us the best part of 4 hours to shift these sheep, including needing all 4 wheels of drive from Lara to pull the trailer out of the field every time. I have no doubt that Andy would have managed, eventually, somehow, but at what cost of time, effort and energy! I have always said if he needs a lift to give me a ring, he never has.
It seems that today, asking for help is a sign of weakness. Given the rise of technology and the vast improvement in the efficacy of the day to day equipment we live our lives with, asking for help is something I believe most people are finding more and more uncomfortable. Back in cave man days I guess you had to work together to kill your woolly mammoth; before the advent of the tractor it took gangs of men and women to harvest a field of corn. Now we can pop to Tesco all on our lonesome and a single farmer with some fancy combine can harvest the largest of fields in no time. Is society just expecting us to fend for ourselves and find a way through?
In your teams and your workplace – how common is it for people to ask for help? My experience is that because everyone is busy trundling along on the operational treadmill, they accord everyone else that level of ‘busyness’ and therefore don’t want to ‘put people out’ by asking, making the judgement they can’t help before we even ask!
Stealing with pride from a great article by Lorie Corcuera @loriecorcuera, I share her 5 assumptions that potentially underpin why we do not ask for help enough.
Assumption 1: It’s a sign of weakness. If I can’t do it on my own, I must not know how to do it or I don’t have the skills or resources to do it.
Assumption 2: Allowing someone else to help me means I lose control of the situation.
Assumption 3: If I receive support then I have to reciprocate. What if I can’t return the favour? What if I don’t want to return the favour?
Assumption 4: If I ask for the support of others, I am burdening them. They are just as busy as me so how could they find the time to help out?
Assumption 5: I am the only one that can do it my way. It’s easier and quicker for me to do it than to train or teach someone else to help me.
Can you hear yourself??
They are all really valid reasons, I can certainly hear myself saying all of them at one time or another. The fact is though, I know that, whilst there are some things that I am really good at, there are way more things that I need help and support with. When I set up Kili Consulting, I was adamant that this was to be a business with just me in it, I didn’t want the hassle of other people. I have very quickly realised that I need help and support in so many facets of the business and my life. I am true to myself, confident and bold enough to know that I need help and am becoming more comfortable asking for help. I have set myself a goal for 2016 to seek help quickly whenever I am stuck or need to make greater progress. Sometimes that is easier to do than other times, but I am finding my way. It enables me to focus on the things I am good at, it creates great opportunities for people to feel good about themselves by helping me and it builds deeper, stronger relationships. Where could you do with some help right now?
Practising what I preach, I would like to ask for your help in order for me to make progress.
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That was nearly painless, although I have read and re-read those bullets a number of times and still feel a bit odd. Hey ho! Onwards and upwards! Thanks for reading and thanks for any help you can give!