By Tom Peterson
In the acknowledgements section of her best-selling book Quiet, Susan Cain thanks more than 200 people by name. Along the way, she had asked those people to help her: share contacts, read some pages, be a sounding board, do an interview. That’s a lot of reaching out for a self-described introvert. Cain had to navigate her introversion to accomplish her goal.
Why is asking so hard?
Over the years I have watched my friend, Rosalee, help hundreds of people. No one is more giving. Yet… “Asking for help is one of the things I find very difficult,” she told me. “There have been times when I felt totally wiped out, discouraged, depressed or overwhelmed. Usually instead of asking for help I end up having a good cry and making some kind of new plan to deal with issues myself. It is easier to give help than to ask for it.”
Oh, the myriad of reasons we don’t ask! It’s uncomfortable. I struggle with this myself. In a culture that reveres self-reliance, it’s admitting that we’re not able to do something ourselves, that we depend on others. Deep in our national psyche is that isolated pioneer surviving on the open prairie. We’re afraid we’ll be seen as weak, unable or incompetent.
Or we don’t deserve help. We don’t want to bother a busy person. We don’t want to place someone in the awkward position of having to say no or to feel obligated, resentful of having to help. We’re afraid of rejection. Or they may say yes, and the help we get sucks. And we’re stuck with it. No one can do it as well as we can. We may lose control and end up with a bad outcome. No shortage of reasons not to ask.
For the cause!
But here’s some basic logic: If your cause, your challenge is not bigger than you, then it’s too small! If it is larger than you, you’ll need help and the only way to get it is to ask for it!
Does it make it any easier when you’re asking for a cause? “For me this is not just a book; it’s a mission,” Susan Cain told journalist Jeff Glor.
I was fueled by the same mix of passion and indignation that I imagine inspired Betty Friedan to publish The Feminine Mystique in 1963. Introverts are to extroverts what women were to men at that time—second-class citizens with gigantic amounts of untapped talent. Our schools, workplaces, and religious institutions are designed for extroverts, and many introverts believe that there is something wrong with them and that they should try to “pass” as extroverts. The bias against introversion leads to a colossal waste of talent, energy, and happiness.
Many of those who helped Cain resonated with her cause: to improve life for the half of our population who are introverts. But first, she had to explain her mission, her book—and ask each one for help!
We’re much more likely to accomplish something significant when we get beyond ourselves. This is especially true when it comes to growing support for our cause. If we ask for help, we invite others to be part of something important. And with many hands, we can move forward more powerfully.
So let’s swallow our pride, overcome our fears. The cause is too important. Ask for help!
Ask for Help related posts: Amanda Palmer, Share Ideas Freely, Steal Ideas.
Stamp art: Post of Belarus, Creative Commons.
[…] posts: Ask for Help, Aids […]