Asking for help – Assisted Connections

If I’m stuck, what choices do I really have?

I realize being stuck comes in many variations and yet the solutions always come with a change in our thinking to accept help.

Proximity of other people or ideas are of little use when we commit to our independence.

As a kid, naturally I wanted to stand on my own two feet and take care of myself. I was raised in a household where independence was a hallmark of my parents achievements. They raised us to be independent and mutually became a source of great pride. In part that sounds right. Being  able and  assert control over your future helps insure we survive. Independence also implies responsibility, a sign of accountability for our actions. This self-reliance forces us to measure up, compare our performance and abilities relative to others and ultimately rank them.

Babies  need help.  Their muscle and sensory development limitations require assistance. Their cries are not unlike our own shrieks for help in extreme situations.  But a friend who needs another minute to decide or to calculate the answer, do they require assistance or do we need to see signs that they are really struggling first?

I enjoy basketball. It was my first experience of teaming, and I suppose one of the first sports that my brothers let me play with them.  The sport taught me  to coördinate with others and at the same time get credit for an assist. I remember the exhilaration I felt when I caught the ball and helped make the basket. Or vice-versa when I passed it successfully to my brother who was better positioned to make the points.  I experienced the pride that often follows a sense of agency-that we are the ones who make things happen.

Look closely at an assist, a helping hand and giving someone a clue, or even the answer.  Is  there a difference? Our judgment morally condemns the latter, deeming it an unfair advantage. No wonder, help is not something that we willingly accept.

It matters because frankly, we are always standing on the shoulders of those who came before us. The more willingly we can see fit to helping and getting help just imagine how much faster, further we all might get.

What’s going to make the world change their mind on this?

I suggest two things:
1. Assists are real, they are measurable, and we could do a better job following the example of many sports. It’s not just completions that matter, but we can also track and distinguish completions that come via assists.

2. There’s been a great deal of research into high performing teams , but we still value individual contributors. What if we were to give up the control in favor of connection.  Accept the power of uncertainty in the face of collaboration or recognizing we are not alone?

The nature of connection doesn’t depend on mutual coordination, or equality. What’s even more astonishing is how little we appreciate the value of sharing experiences with others.

Sometimes the only answer people are looking for when they ask for help is that they won’t have to face the problem alone. ~Mark Amend

This post was inspired by Vicki Flaherty’s post and I highly encourage all readers to read on.

Leading With Intention



Me and nine other people were blindfolded in a maze that had been created with rope. I remember starting out confident as I followed the path of the rope, having fun in the exploration. The atmosphere was pleasant passing each other as we tried to get the lay of the land. After I’d been around the maze several times, I started to get frustrated, my confidence definitely waning. We began commenting as we passed each other, giving each other clues or sharing our concerns. The tension started to grow as it became clear that we didn’t have what it took to find our way out of the maze. We continued to plug along, each of  us determined we could handle the challenge if we just persisted enough. Finally, after about 10 minutes, I raised my hand and asked the facilitator for help. At that point, I was quietly escorted out…

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2 thoughts on “Asking for help – Assisted Connections

  1. I love this! And, not because you mention my assist 🙂 I love it because it has opened my thinking about how I think about the way I view my accomplishments and those of my team. Wow, the shifts we could create focusing on the how, the connections, the partnering. For me, it seems to be coming down to relationships – and that’s at the heart of assisting, isn’t it? Thanks for sharing and the ‘bump’ (as Stephen Colbert would say). 🙂

    • Glad to share and build on each others thinking! What’s clear is that helping is what builds the relationship, it’s the mutual accomplishment that turns strangers into connections. Its the source of our relationship not the other way around, the question is how much further we can go by actively working to strengthen the serendipitous connection!

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