The story is told of a little boy trying desperately to move a rock that stood in his path with his father looking on. The rock was more that the boy could manage to move on his own. As he struggled while fussing and complaining about the rock, his father said to him, “Son, why are you not using all of your strength?” The boy responded with utter frustration, “What do you mean I am not using all my strength, can’t you see I am giving it all I have got?” The father responded, “Yes, but you did not ask for help.”
Many of us struggle daily because we are not using all our strength. Asking for help is often not seen as strength; rather we are made to believe asking for help is a weakness. This is especially true with those in leadership. There is the unhealthy perception that a leader should be the one who is offering to help, not asking for help. As Brené Brown puts it, “Helping is courageous and compassionate and a sign you have it all together. Asking for help is a sign of weakness.” Unfortunately, this is the view shared by many of us.
Not only is asking for help seen as weakness, it is also a pride issue. Our sense of pride keeps us from asking for help because it makes us appear to be in need. And if there is one thing we all strive hard to do, is to not appear to be in need. What we do not realize is when we try to appear to not be in need, we are sending a message to those around us, that we are not like them in the most basic way—we all need help.
Asking for help is one of the most unused strengths. We are often forced to use it when we are in trouble. Too many leaders wait until the situation becomes critical and they are forced to ask for help, when that strength was available to them all along.
Before we can view asking for help as strength, we have to accept our strengths and limitations. If you do not accept your limitations, you will always see asking for help as weakness.
“Until we can receive with an open heart, we are never really giving with an open heart. When we attach judging to receiving help, we knowingly or unknowingly attach judgment to giving help.” Brené Brown
When you are able to embrace your strengths and limitations, you will accept that there are things you do that people around you can do far better and more efficiently than you. You’ll recognize that there are things you can do, that those around you cannot do better or more efficiently than you. Then you will be in a place to start seeing asking for help as strength.
To start, you must form alliances with those around you so you can reach out to them for help and they can turn to you for help. Leaders who try to go it alone often find themselves feeling overworked and overwhelmed. They will be giving a great amount of their energies to doing things that could be done better and faster by others.
John Maxwell makes the following observation. “Are there people who are standing quietly by, watching you struggle with your tasks? Part of your task as leader is to form healthy alliances and to encourage others to step forward and help you. By doing so you’ll accomplish two goals: lightening your own load and helping to develop leadership qualities in others.”
Are you using all your strengths? “
Effective leaders use all their strength by recognizing, developing and utilizing the people around them. They also know how to ask for help, and when they do, they do not see it as weakness but as courageous. As Brené Brown reminds us, “…offering help is courageous and compassionate but so is asking for help.”
Have you been courageous lately? Use your strength today and ask for help? I dare you to be courageous.
If you would like help in achieving your goals as a leader or in any area of your life, call us at 208-880-0307 or email us at email@example.com to schedule a complimentary coaching session. To read Errol’s other posts, visit Christ-Centered Life Coaching.