Don't Forget to A.S.K.
For as long as I can remember, my daughter Rachel has wanted a miniature car. One that drives all by itself, with wheels and everything. (Her words). Year after year, Santa fails to bring the car. We console her by explaining that maybe Santa knows there is no place for her to drive the car, or maybe the car is too small for her and it wouldn’t be fun. She forgets about it for a while and then it shows up again on her holiday list. But this week, she decided to take matters into her own hands. She declared that she is going to build her own car - with cardboard, tape, glue, recycled materials and other miscellaneous items she grabbed from her brother’s room. She builds all day and then cries all night because her plans didn’t work. We try to help her set realistic expectations. We try to help her with the construction of it. But she is stubborn in her struggles and seemingly willing to suffer the consequences of trying to do something on her own. She is eight. She doesn’t always remember that she has one of the greatest resources available to her: she can ask for help. We all can ask for help. It actually doesn’t matter what we are trying to build.
Asking for help is not surrender. There is no reason to feel defeat as long as you are still moving toward your goal, which can be done when we ask the right questions at the right time. There is no shame in asking, for it is a part of the healthy approach to living and learning and growing. When we don’t ask, we find ourselves simply stuck in place, lamenting what we can’t seem to accomplish. And in doing that, we pretend that there is nothing we can do. But there is always something we can do. A.S.K.
ACCEPT our humanity with humility and never fear. There are a lot of things we know. But no matter how much we know, the volume of things we don’t know far surpasses it. There is nothing wrong with not knowing. Even if we have been taught something and we forget it. Even if we are designated an “expert”. Even if we have done it a million times and feel like we really should have the skillset to do something. Remind yourself. It is ok to just not know. Admitting that is a powerful first step.
START counting and listing resources. We all have them. Resources, by definition, are a stock or supply of money, materials, staff or other assets that can be gathered by an individual or organization. We don’t all have ALL of them, but we all have some of them. We all have at least one of them. We have people in our lives that can help us problem-solve, network, build, paint, as friends, colleagues, or contractors. We might be fortunate enough to have the financial resources to pay for the help. And let’s not forget to include our personal resources that can be deployed, for we are creative, persistent, physically strong. We are good with our hands, good with our words, good with the kitchen supplies. Or maybe we aren’t good at any of those things but very skilled at something else. And if we have convinced ourselves that we actually aren’t very good at anything, particularly whatever we are currently stuck on, then we still do not have a right to just give in and give up. We have the responsibility to ourselves to dig deeper into our list of resources and use them. Being stuck is a reality that we create when we make the CHOICE to stop using the resources that we have been given. Not using our resources is our choice, so let’s all put on our surprised face when we don’t use our resources and things don’t get done. Funny how that works.
KNOW your strengths and your limitations. Along with admitting that we aren’t all-knowing is also acknowledging that there are some things, no matter how hard we try, we just won’t be able to do. It doesn’t matter how much I wish it to be so, I will never be able to put together my furniture and get it upstairs into the office on my own. I’m not that physically strong. It’s not going to happen. I might even know this before I even start a project, which will save me a whole lot of disappointment if I can account for this limitation before I get started.
Asking is powerful. Asking is always available.
It is counterproductive to not ask if help is available. Doing everything independently might look like a super-power but the real super-power is being willing and able to access the resources at our fingertips in an effective manner. Next time you get stuck - on projects, on making a decision, on applying for a new job, on getting the deck repaired - ask yourself:
What do I know about how to get this done?
What do I not know?
Who can help me?
How can I help myself?
What are other ways I can get this accomplished if this way that I have already tried isn’t going to work?
What am I really good at and how can I use that skill in this situation?
What is truly impossible for me at this point?
Accept your humanity. Start your list of internal and external resources that you can pull from for an assist. Know your limitations. And, above all else, choose how to proceed. Choose to do something that represents progress.
My little Rachel is still fighting with cardboard. Her project is spread throughout the house in various states of completion. She still does not have her car. I spied her on the back patio, lounging with a device during approved screen time.
“You stopped working on your car. How’s it going?”
“I’m not going to work on it now. Dad said he would help me later.”
“Oh - Rachel I’m so glad you asked for help.”
“I don’t need any help! Dad’s just going to cut the cardboard for me and help me glue it and put it together….but I don’t need any help.”
Don’t we wish all of our “not help” would work that hard? I highly recommend a more reliable strategy for getting things done - A.S.K. and ye shall receive.