Do not ask for this too late. Ask for this early. Ask for this often.
Never be afraid to ask for help. We live in an independent-minded and acted culture. We pride ourselves on doing it ourselves. We are a bootstraps culture, where we feel it is unnecessary or uncouth to ask for help from others. Yet we cannot do it all alone.
Asking for help is a leadership tenant. There is no leadership without help. There’d be no need for it. Therefore, it is necessary to ask, to get stuff done through others.
Some people choose to always go it alone, to not let others know what it is they’re going through. They feel they got themselves into this mess and they can get themselves out of it. Yet it would be much easier on them if they were to simply ask others for their help and support as they go through a rough patch. Going through tough times is precisely when we need to be reaching out to people. You don’t want to suffer in silence. Suffering in silence can make you go crazy. While Stoicism has its merits, simply ginning and bearing certain difficult situations is the wrong mode of action. Sometimes you’ve got to talk it out, talk it through with trusted others. There is no need to go it alone when you’re surrounded by friends and family that can help you.
Guys seem to have a really difficult time with this. A lot of guys view asking for help as a weakness, something to look down upon. They think this and then think that other guys think the same thing. So, they do nothing but keep it all in, thinking they’ve got this. And a lot of times, they do. They’re good. They hit a rough patch and then work themselves out of it. But sometimes they don’t have it. Sometimes they’re overwhelmed. Sometimes it is too much and they really need someone to talk it through. Sometimes it is too hard. And when it is too hard, you’ve got to ask for help. There is no shame in asking for help. Let me repeat that: there is no shame in asking for help.
What’s worse, if you don’t deal with it and ask for help ,the feelings fester and can manifest themselves in weird, uncommon ways, like lashing out at friends and family where you otherwise would never do that. Perfectly even people can become sideways after too much pressure has been applied. Those close to you know you too well: there’s more going on with you than you’re letting on. What’s happening in your life that would cause such a ruckus? Where’s the pressure coming from? You may think you can hide these feelings, but they’re there, looming in the not too distant background of yourself. Wouldn’t it be better to get help and let some of the pressure go? To let someone else in on what’s really going on with you so that you can feel some relief? No matter how bad you think it is, enlisting the help of trusted others will lift some of that pressure and give you some relief.
What’s great about asking for help, especially if you’re a leader, is you’re setting a great example for others. They don’t have to go it alone, either. You went through a tough time, asked for help, got it, and now you’re out of the abyss and into the present light. You improved. You got better. And you did it through others to help yourself. That is an act of leadership. Further, whenever you see someone else going through something similar to what you just went through, you’ve got the experience to help bring them back to their present light. You now know what to do. You’ve improved and you can help others do the same, no matter their current problem.
The tough part about asking for help is asking too late. Please ask early and often. I know it is hard — it is very hard. When the problems are in their early stages, we all know — we know — we can handle them. So, we go about our normal day-to-day activities, allowing the problem and feelings to fester instead of knocking it out early with help. The longer we wait, the more sideways we can become with our suppressed feelings and the internal pressure being applied. After months and months of this, we are a walking pressure cooker, just waiting to blow its top at some unlikely moment. When here, all this time, we were surrounded by people willing to help us and listen to us and point us in the right direction.
Do not ask for help too late. Get on top of the problem early. Knock it out sooner. See it coming and solve it or at least work to minimize it.
Better, get good at asking for help. Ask: Who is someone I can rely on to help solve this? Who in my network of friends has taken on this before and won? How can I make this better with help? Work at it. Get good at it. Ask for help like you would ask for the salt: “Hey, I need some help on this project here. I need someone with experience and I think you’d be really good. Why don’t you give it a try?” And then go from there. Learn to take pride in asking for help. You’re doing something that few people are willing to do. And that’s almost always a good, differentiated thing.