Why we need to ask for help more often in a world that frowns on it
I resume posting today reflecting on the subject of asking for help. At work, in teams, in life generally, there is a widely held belief that growth only comes from stretching yourself and doing the uncomfortable. To a very large extent, this is true. This belief spurs us on to push ourselves, to test our limits.
But according to Young’s modulus, to geek out a little, there is a point at which the weight exceeds our tensile strength. We exceed our capacity to simply ‘snap back’ into place at first, then eventually, if we keep stretching, we break. These breaks show up in various areas of your lives.
Our mental, physical, spiritual and emotional health all pushed to the very brink of disaster, in the name of growth.
I think that part of this is because as a culture, we don’t normalise asking for help. Seeking assistance is often associated with kids or the elderly — people who are seen as weak or incapacitated. But this couldn’t be further from the truth. I think going it alone to the point of breaking down is the real weakness. Funny enough, this is when the work actually suffers, when the hero is maxed out and cannot pick herself up to go again.
It is strength to ask for help. It is also a sign that we care enough about the work and its outcomes to call in the reinforcements. This way, the only thing that might suffer is our ego. We need to be more deliberate about creating safe spaces not just for collaboration, but for people to raise a hand when they are genuinely stuck, need a boost, or even just a fresh set of eyes, or an extra pair of hands.
I think it might start with telling fewer “lone ranger” stories. As long as this narrative remains prevalent, capes will never go out of fashion.