No One Is An Island

Simon and Garfunkel once famously sang "I am a rock, I am an island". It's a great song, but it simply isn't true! For whatever reason, we all seem afraid to ask for help, even from those closest to us, regardless of whether we need or deserve it. There's something in our society that seems to dictate that we have to do it all ourselves - either a perception that we'll be seen as weak, or just simply pride.Simon and Garfunkel once famously sang "I am a rock, I am an island". It's a great song, but it simply isn't true! For whatever reason, we all seem afraid to ask for help, even from those closest to us, regardless of whether we need or deserve it. There's something in our society that seems to dictate that we have to do it all ourselves - either a perception that we'll be seen as weak, or just simply pride.

This, however, doesn't seem to be true of successful people. They haven't bought into the fallacy that asking for help is wrong. They know the truth - that great things are achieved when people co-operate.

Think about it the other way around. The last time someone asked you for help, how did you feel? Did you feel imposed upon? Did you think they were weak, stupid or lazy? Of course not! I'll bet you took it as a compliment, or even felt honored to be asked! Assuming that you're no different from the rest of us, how do you think others will feel when the roles are reversed? If you ask someone for help, they will almost certainly respond positively and see it as a compliment.

Imagine yourself in this position for a moment. You've been working hard on a project for a long time, on your own. You've hit a wall and you feel you can't get any further. You feel frustrated and stuck in a rut, having tried everything you can think of - except ask for assistance.

If you're soldiering on alone, then you may have reached the point where you're all out of options but, if you're willing to ask for help, there's a whole world of possibilities out there. You've heard the expressions 'fresh eyes' and 'two heads are better than one', so why not follow their advice?

We all have different skill-sets, knowledge and experiences. Each person you know is a whole new set of untapped reference material and expertise and, to get hold of it and use it, all you have to do is ask them. People are rarely unwilling to assist - it's in our nature to be part of communities.

A good example I sometimes use in seminars is to pick a delegate at random and ask them how many people they know, in total. The usual answer is somewhere between 200 and 500. For the sake of this illustration, let's select the lower figure and call it 200. Then I ask the person how many people each of those people know. On the assumption that they have similar-sized circles, they almost certainly know at least 200 people each. On this basis, the people within one degree of separation for a person who knows 200 people is a staggering 40,000 people - can you imagine the size of that experience and knowledge pool?

Looking at it this way, giving your friends, family and colleagues the opportunity to help you opens your resource bank to literally thousands of people. That's a whole army of potential volunteers all waiting to be complimented!

A great example of this in practice is listening to friend saying 'I'm looking to buy a used motorbike'; 'I need to find a new dentist' or 'I need a babysitter for Saturday' - just normal conversational statements. A couple of hours later you might find yourself in a different conversation and saying "Hang on, Sarah said she needed a babysitter for Saturday night if your daughter is looking to make a little extra money for her vacation. Get her to give Sarah a call, and I'm sure she'd love to have her mind the kids!" This is networking in action - how your social circle can help each other for mutual benefit.

As people, we naturally tend to keep things private but, if you share your needs, goals, dreams and challenges with others, you give them the opportunity to be a part of your success. So, the next time you need help, don't suffer in silence. Pick up the phone, or mention it to a friend. You'll be pleasantly amazed at what you can achieve together.

Marsha Egan, CPCU, PCC is CEO of The Egan Group, Inc., a Reading, PA based professional coaching firm. She is a certified workplace productivity coach and professional speaker, specializing in leadership development and can be reached at marsha@marshaegan.com or visit http://www.InboxDetox.com.

This article was published on 22 Jun 2011 and has been viewed 358 times
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