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The Power of Asking

I’m struck this morning by the power of asking for help. Two instances over the
course of the last few days:

A colleague of mine sent me an email about how she had lost touch with a dear friend from high school several years ago. I could tell that she felt badly about this "lost friend" situation and that she had a deep desire to reconnect. In the course of a conversation we had last week, my colleague realized that we were the same age (44) and that I had gone to the same university as her dear friend (Northwestern University). She hoped that I might know of her friend (I did not) or be able to access contact information through the alumni association. It was an easy on-line lookup for me and in a few minutes, I was writing my colleague with the phone number and address of her long lost friend. She wrote back a minute later to tell me how excited she was to have this information. It was as if a miracle had just occurred. And all she had to do was ask. So this brings me to:

>>>>Lesson Number 1 : The answer may be more easily within reach than you think.

This morning, I read posts from an on-line group for coaches, www.coactivenetwork.com. Coaches were responding to a colleague’s request for
prayers for her sister, who had just unsuccessfully attempted a long-planned suicide, after many years of chronic pain. The original request was posted yesterday and since then, there has been a flood of postings responding to this request–prayers for this woman’s sister and her family, candles lit, and blessings all around. What surprised me is what else these postings were about–gratitude for being part of this on-line community, acknowledging the leadership and courage it took to ask for help, similar stories that others were struggling with, and how this request was pointing others in the community to places they needed to look at in their own lives.

>>>>Lesson Number 2: Asking for help is a gift to others, in ways that you cannot imagine.

One more story: I am on the board for a local non-profit group. This board has been struggling over the last couple of months. Among other things, a subset of board members working on a special project has been approaching burnout. While one of the members on this special project had asked if I had wanted join the project, I didn’t realize the depth of the need. It didn’t become apparent to me how burdensome this special project had become until a board meeting last week. One board member, close to tears, described the heavy weight of this project on her shoulders. Another board member talked about her inability to devote enough time to the project on a continuous basis. At the end of the meeting, the board agreed on an action item to address the situation: Ask for help. This brings up questions for me on the fine line of rescuing and responding to a plea for help, hearing the plea, and being specific about the help you want. That’s another post for another day.

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