My experiences have proven to me that we all want help, and we all need help – but we don’t always use it, not accept it. Help of any kind is not meant to show our weaknesses, but rather, provide us with a bit of strength to break through whatever barrier it may be. You and I are surrounded by thousands upon thousands of resources to help us excel in a multitude of endeavors.
Help is staring us in the face; it’s within a fingertips reach. Technology has made it so accessible that all we need to do is open up our computers, pull up Google, and type in ‘how to (insert X)’. Awaiting us will be an endless list of websites to help us accomplish what it is we have set out to do.
Within milliseconds, no one needs to worry because the help is there. Most importantly, it’s present without appearing weak and asking someone. Tasks easily completed without having to ‘bother’ someone else.
This was the help that I sought out for several years, until I began to run, and until I was still left unsatisfied by whatever it was I had completed. I would struggle and make myself crazy, until I figured it out. With each seemingly big victory, the feeling of fulfillment began to creep further away.
Yes, searching Google and reading books can provide you with information to apply when the going gets tough. Hell, it may even give you the answer to your problem. This is great use of the available resources, and I even use them.
Genuine help, though. Now, this is when help becomes personal. These are the moments when real, live people truly care for your well-being. The same people who go out of their way to make your way run smoothly. Genuine helps shares a common denominator.
People who use these resources, often and well, are not vulnerable by any means, but rather outsmarting their competition and answering questions before they even become questions.
When I first started running, I was fortunate to work at a place where I met several veteran runners – guys who have run New York and Boston, and run them extremely fast (sub 3 hours before automatic chip timing). By simply being authentic and sharing my passion, these men shared their knowledge with a fledgling runner who was just dying to learn more. I accepted the fact that I didn’t know everything. I couldn’t do it on my own. More importantly, these guys cared and wanted to help, so I was going to let them.
Would you like some water?
On a full marathon course, there typically are 15-20 fluid stations. In addition to the fluid stations, there will also be medical stations, cheer stations, party stations and people lining the streets in support of all the runners.
Along the race course, all of the stations are an example of genuine help – should you choose to accept. No one is forcing you to take the water, or eat the energy chews. No one forced the thousands of volunteers to stand at a water station and fill thousands of cups for multiple hours. As a runner, you have a need and the volunteers have the solution.
A veteran marathon runner knows to drink fluids early and often and to eat something before, during and after the race. A veteran runner does this because they know that their body will stay strong and nourished for the duration of the race. If they wait until they feel thirsty or hungry, then they have waited too long because the body is now running on fumes.
As you make your way to a water station, the cups are being held out to grab without missing a beat. You have two choices:
- Don’t take the water (miss an opportunity for help)
- Take the water (accept the help)
If you don’t take the water, then your body slowly becomes dehydrated, breaking down and causing fatigue to set in.
If you take the cup, then you are are helping your body remain strong until the next station.
The next time a cup of water is staring you in the face, what are you going to do about it? When the expert piano player offers you free lessons when you have been secretly trying to learn, what are you going to say?
Stop (not literally if you are in a race). Take a second to process that this one person cares enough about your well-being that they are going to go out of their way to ensure you succeed. Welcome the opportunity. And run with it.
Help is overused, while genuine help is underused.
Our egos tend to get the best of us, and we become TOO DAMN PROUD to accept help when it is available or simply ask, “Do you mind helping me?” Instead we say, “I can do this on my own.”
There is absolutely nothing wrong with being confident in our abilities. The question I ask myself is, “Why make this any harder on myself than it already is?” Sure, I am confident I can achieve great things on my own, but it is much more rewarding when I can share in that success with others.
MY EGO IS JUST A ‘THING’
GENUINE HELP IS REAL
This coming weekend, I am running the Buffalo Marathon in an attempt to qualify for the Boston Marathon. One of my best friends who recently qualified, has offered to run parts of the race with me. He genuinely and authentically wants to help. I am more than excited to have him there and will most definitely be using him to my advantage. This is genuine help at its finest.
(In the picture, me on the left running next to my friend as he qualifies for Boston.)
Learning to Ask
Innately, people have a desire to want to help others if they feel a connection or bond with that person, or the task being completed. Without any connection, it becomes difficult to ask for help. To increase the likelihood that someone will help, let’s keep the following in consideration.
- Build authentic relationships – Nothing screams, “No, I can’t help you,” more than someone you only turn to when things have hit rock bottom.
- Take interest in others – Be personable with friends, family and even strangers from time to time. Let them know you care for them and appreciate them being in your life.
- Reciprocate the help – In your relationships with people, share with them your desire to help them in their journey.
Use Genuine Help Often
If people willingly want to help, then let them. Open your eyes, and sometimes your heart, to these people. You never know where they may take you. As courtesy, remember:
- Don’t wait until you realize you need help to accept it.
- When help is staring you in the face, whether you feel like you need it or not, use it! It may even help prevent obstacles down the road.
- When help is received, follow up with the two most important words you can say – Thank you.
- Follow up ‘thank you’ with the next most important eight words – Is there anything I can do for you?
Are you ready to take the hand? Has anyone recently offered to help you, but you chose to ‘do it on your own’?
“A person’s most useful asset is not the head full of knowledge, but a heart full of love, an ear ready to listen, and a hand willing to help.” -Unknown
And a person ready to take the hand…