Friday, January 4, 2013

You Asked For It, You Got It

A friend I haven't seen since the surgery asked how I was doing and I explained how well things have gone, how much I can do without any kind of pain, and the few limitations my doctor has wisely imposed (no running, no lifting anything over ten or fifteen pounds, and so on). He asked a few questions that stretched my answer out and then I had a thought.

"I'm talking more than I want to be and I'm curious what's up with him."

I pivoted. So what's new with you, I asked. He told me that there are good things happening at work for him and it was because he got the courage up to ask for something.

I smiled. "It's hard for you to ask for things?" I asked. He nodded. I smiled some more and told him that I was in the same boat.

He went on to explain the opportunities ahead of him now and it all sounded great. After he was done we talked some more about how tough it is to ask for things even though most of the time we get great results from it. I pointed at my neck and told him that I had had to work up courage to ask for time off from work to have it done. He wasn't at all surprised and we both had a good laugh about it.

Asking for things really is tough though and it was good to hear that it's not just me. I have this problem come up often. For whatever reason, I'm trained to not ask for help. Being in recovery from surgery has helped me because I've had to ask for help. I still can't shovel the snow or run the snowblower and so I have to ask my father, brother, and friends to help. They're happy to do it and yet every time I ask it's a difficult thing. I fear the rejection of the request. I fear that they will reject me.

It has long seemed noble to do it myself. DIY, right? A real man, a good person can do things on their own and doesn't intrude on anyone else. That has been my belief, but it's all hooey. Oh, there's something to be said for taking care of myself in that I don't want to fall to pieces or fail to try new things, but this notion that doing it on my own is the noble way of living, that's bunk. Many times I do things on my own simply because I'm afraid to ask for help.

Yesterday I came up with a good gauge about this. I was thinking about something else, but it applies here. If I'm asking for help to avoid something, then I should stop and do it on my own. If I'm asking for help because it's something better done with someone else, then I'm good. Put another way, if I'm _not_ asking for help because I'm embarrassed or proud, then it's time to get some help.

A few weeks back I asked people to share what I had written with their online contacts. I was afraid to ask because it felt like a burden put on my friends. Even when I saw new readers responding to what I had written, I felt a twinge of guilt. That twinge, those feelings are good indications that I was right to ask. I get the feeling that people were happy to pass along a link. It doesn't take a lot of work and in their place I would want to do it for any of them. I just needed to live through the fear and consider it from their point of view.

When I asked that favor I needed something I couldn't do on my own. I wasn't being lazy or avoiding the work. It was a pretty good example of the kind of thing that I need others to accomplish. To not ask for help would have been the same as giving up on what I wanted to do. Giving up is not cool. Asking for help when we need it is so very, very cool and hip.

My friend benefited by asking for something at work. I got all sorts of good out of asking people to pass along links. I can't think of anything right now to ask you for. I'm pretty content. But soon as I think of it, I'll ask you. Bet on it.

Write on.