It is as hard to ask for help as it is easy to get hurt.
It’s hard to know who to go to and it hurts when you ask for help and don’t get what you need.
When I first launched my business and my blog, I asked a former (famous) colleague I had supported for several years to retweet an article I wrote. I explained she could help increase my exposure since she had over 300k followers on Twitter.
And I had 84.
She said she’d be happy to help. And then she didn’t.
Maybe she got busy. Maybe she forgot. Maybe she simply didn’t want to help me or care enough about me to follow through.
Maybe she was the type of woman who didn’t like to help other women.
The story I told myself – of course, thanks to my overly critical inner narrator – is that my article wasn’t very good and she didn’t want to put her stamp on it.
I’ll never know, but either way, it hurt.
It hurt because I’m not comfortable asking for help. I’m the one who gives the help to others.
So to get over my discomfort and ask for it and then not get it, was even more hurtful.
At the same time, since launching my business, I’ve found help in the most unexpected of places, more than I could have hoped for.
The roommate from 25 years ago. A new acquaintance I met over coffee. The sorority sister I hadn’t spoken to in more than two decades.
“I love what you’re doing,” they’d say. “There’s someone I want to introduce you to.”
“Sure, I can get you a contact name at that organization,” they’d offer.
Or they’d simply ask, “How can I help?” or offer enthusiasm: “Keep going!”
These simple acts of helpfulness helped me realize that what I’d been doing mattered.
My work matters, therefore I matter.
What more can we want than to matter?
When a former colleague recently left a long-time position, she worried how her news might be accepted by her co-workers.
Her worry was wasted energy. Some would wish her well. Others wouldn’t bother to say goodbye.
There will always be those who hurt us. Who don’t step up or follow through or say what’s needed or be kind and decent in moments that call for it.
But there will be just as many others who will be helpers.
It’s exactly as Mr. Rogers said it. Look for the helpers.
“Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” – Mr. Rogers
I suppose I’m nostalgic for the simplicity of times past and a beautiful day in the neighborhood.
We could all do a better job of following his advice and looking for the helpers.
And we can all do a better job of stepping up and being a helper.
If it’s no skin off your back, retweet the article. Make the introduction. Offer a word of encouragement.
Come out of your office to say a proper goodbye and wish your colleague well.
You will be the person they were looking for, the one they needed to hear from.
To all my “helpers” out there – many times over many years – thank you. You’re what make this such a nice neighborhood.
Valerie Gordon is a former Emmy-winning television producer, author, speaker, and corporate trainer. She works with teams to grow stronger relationships and collaborations while building future leaders and gender equity at all levels.