Thursday, March 3, 2011

Just Ask for It

A snooty millionaire took some of his upper class friends yachting. They passed a deserted island where a man with a long beard and tattered clothes stood, waving his arms and screaming in their direction.

"Who is that?" asked the friend.

"I don't know," said the host, "but every time we sail by he goes crazy."

That may be an exception to a universal rule, which is that most people are happy to help if they can. But there is another universal principle in play, which is, unless you are stranded on a deserted island, you are probably reluctant to ask for help – especially from a stranger. Thankfully, most of the time we are not coping with a mayday emergency.

I recently learned that the word "mayday" has nothing to do with the month of May. Instead, it comes from the French word "m'aidez," which means "help me." But it is used only as a last resort. The plane is nose-diving. The ship is fatally wounded. “Mayday! Mayday! Mayday!” a voice screams over the radio. If help doesn’t arrive quickly, all will be lost.

We laugh at the notion that men are famously bad about asking for directions. But, in truth, most people do not easily ask for the help they need. They wait until they are hopelessly lost, or the marriage is on the brink of collapse or a simple job has become a nightmare before they seek help.

And it is also true that help is not usually too hard to get. But we have to ASK for it.

Entrepreneur Brian Tracy puts it well: "Ask for what you want. Ask for help, ask for input, ask for advice and ideas -- but never be afraid to ask." Or like one man is fond of saying, "You don't always get what you ask for, but you never get what you don't ask for (unless it's contagious)."

I once heard of a little girl who confidently approached a police officer. “Are you a cop?” she asked.


“My mommy said that if I ever needed help I could ask you.”

“Of course you can,” the officer replied. “What do you need?”

She stuck out her foot. “Can you please tie my shoe?”

Do you need help? It may be easier to get than you think. Just ask for it.

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