Do you ask for help when you need it? Or accept help when it’s offered?
I’ve recently been consulting in a corporate system (that shall remain nameless) in which it is deeply frowned upon to ask for help. It’s as if when you ask for help you are demonstrating weakness or ineptitude, so everyone runs around fearing they will be fired and doing everything themselves, not asking for the resources they need, and not accepting help they are offered. It’s a disaster in the making! If you really think about it, it’s mission-critical that we all learn how to take notice when something good comes along -and accept the help that’s available! Here’s a fun story about accepting that other people’s talents can make your team more effective:
When Mark Zuckerberg met Sheryl Sandberg at a Christmas party in 2007, he wasn’t even looking for help. After spending time together, she was brought on board, as COO. Zuckerberg is the shy idea guy, Sandberg is the smooth-talking business face. She is credited with Facebook’s huge profitability.
“A lot of people choose to hire people who look exactly like them,” Zuckerberg told the NY Times. “Here we just value balance a lot more. It takes work to build those relationships, but if it does work, you end up with a much better system.”
Sheryl is responsible for making money. She is jokingly referred to as the “grown-up” at Facebook. Unlike Zuckerberg, Cheryl Sandberg is referred to as elegant, stylish, sophisticated, and polished. Zuckerberg didn’t have to listen to or accept her help. He was doing an ok job by himself.
It is hard to ask for help. It is even harder to accept that help. Everything in us screams I can do this on my own! I don’t need help! I’ve got this.
We are a do it yourself society. We see asking for help as a sign of weakness. We should have all of the answers. Which is interesting, because we usually don’t, and things often go better when there is teamwork involved, when everyone plays a part.
The truth is, no one is self-made. We all depend on each other.
Sure, we can try to figure everything out ourselves. Or we can, as Isaac Newton said, “stand on the shoulders of giants.” We can get a sense of what to expect from others who have already been there. Learn what to do, also what not to do.