This post was originally published on June 19th, 2017, and has been updated.
Hey it’s “Remps” here and right now I seem to be on a bit of an “It’s OK….” theme. Last time I talked about how it’s OK to say no and today I’d like to remind you of another important thing heroes need to remember: it’s OK to ask for help.
Even pilots who fly solo or athletes who compete in individual sports still have an entire team of people standing behind them, folks who helped with the training, people who did the mechanical work and family who cheered them on.
While I was training for the Sochi Paralympic Games there were many people who were a part of my “team” even though I alone was responsible for my individual performance. I often had to ask for help. Now, in my motivational seminars and speaking engagements I often ask my audience:
How many of you have trouble asking for help?
What would you do if someone asked you for help?
If you always help others in need but now it’s you that really needs help – why don’t you just ask for it?
Universally, the audience answers are similar. No one ever asks for help but everyone is willing to offer it! So I spend my time encouraging my audiences to be the hero in their own movie. That is: If you are ready, willing and able to rescue someone else in times of trouble, be ready and willing to rescue yourself too, simply by asking for help.
Asking for help is important but so too is how you ask. When we ask for help we tend to say things like:
Would you mind?
Could I bother you?
If you’re not too busy could you…..?
In other words, we almost apologize for asking and we give people an excuse NOT to help us. We are giving people permission to say “No” which we then interpret as a self-fulfilling prophecy that “no one ever helps me anyway so what’s the point in asking.”
Believe me, I speak from experience. I had a great deal of difficulty asking for help mostly due to my perception that I didn’t want to “drag my friends down.” After the Paralympics I stopped eating healthily, I wasn’t sleeping well and I had no future goals to focus on.
I fell into a dark depression and I couldn’t get myself out of it on my own. I needed help but it took months of desperately needing it before I finally asked. When I did, immediately people were there to support me. Don’t fear asking. By asking for help I thought I would be pulling friends into my depression. I didn’t want to do that. Now, when I think about those days it strikes me as odd. These were my friends and my family—who better to ask for help?
So how do you ask for help? This is the shortest paragraph of all. Just say this: “I need help.” Don’t offer explanations, don’t make excuses and don’t second-guess yourself. Just ask.
I spoke with a group of nurses, and it struck me as particularly interesting to chat with these folks. They are asked for help all day long. Patients ask for support, Doctors ask them to perform certain functions, and families ask questions all the time on behalf of their loved ones. But universally these nurses all agreed that they never ask for help. They toil in a profession who are asked for help all day long but won’t ask for help in return yet they all agreed they “would help a colleague in a heartbeat.”
It’s time people. It’s time to “nurse” your own health and it’s time we give ourselves permission to ask for help. Be the hero in your own movie and rally a whole team behind you to help you.