I needed him to help me. I was too scared to ask. I just presumed he would reject me. I presumed he wouldn’t even look at my face before saying no to my request. I didn’t ask. People are mean, I believed. People don’t have time to attend to other people’s problems. They also have their own problems they ought to solve. So I don’t ask for help. I don’t want to bother people with my problems. They don’t care.
That’s the reason I don’t ask for help even when I need it the most. I don’t know your reason for not asking. But we both have one thing in common—the fear to ask. A friend once told me: “When I ask, it feels like I’ve surrendered my pride just so someone could do only one thing for me.” He calls it “only one thing.” He doesn’t see the need to sacrifice his pride just so he could have “only one thing” sorted out in his life by someone.
Life is only one thing after the other. A step after a single step. We only grow from zero to many just by adding series of one thing at a time to another. It’s through the appreciation of one that we get to go to two. So we have to respect one. We have to appreciate the power of one to be able to go to two. His pride won’t allow him to ask for one thing—one thing that could help him move to two. So he never asked.
What is your reason for not asking?
I once went to see a very big man. He’s not big as in size. He’s small. I was bigger than he is but his position in society makes him look bigger than he actually is. So they call him a big man. He had the solutions to my problem. Well, so I thought. So I went to see him. Immediately he saw me, he asked: “How may I help you?” Before I could come forth with an answer, my brain had already answered; “HOW you may help me is your own problem. My problem is having a problem.”
I was expecting to hear something like; “What can I do for you?” So I may pour out everything that I needed him to do for me. Later somebody told me if you have a problem “How may I help you” is the same as “What can I do for you.” The only thing you should care about is seeking help and getting help.
After talking to this big man, all he said was “come tomorrow morning.” I went back to see him tomorrow morning. He had already solved my problem for me. Something that has bothered me for months, he only used half day to solve it. He didn’t even have to do anything about it. He only made a call, and my problem was solved.
Some problems are hard. To you. But it only takes a phone call for it to be solved. My perception about seeking help—asking, changed that very day. People are not mean to our request. Good people won’t reject us just because they have satisfaction in saying no to. Good people will do what you ask them if it’s within their means to do so. It was within his means. He is a good man. He solved my problem for me. What did I do to deserve a solution to my problem? I only asked!
Get good at asking. You’ll be rejected sometimes. Many people will say no to you. Many others are waiting to say yes to you. But how would you know? Unless you ask. Robin Sharma said; “the person who asks for what he wants at least has a chance of getting what he wants. The person who does not ask has no chance.” I had a chance of getting my problem solved. Because I asked.
When we assume people will say no to us, we defeat our power of asking. In an exam hall recently, I was writing maths. I was failing. The only question I could answer on the question paper was “write your name and your index number.” Even that, I was told it wasn’t a question but instructions. After writing my name and index number, there was nothing else I could do.
For about fifteen minutes, I only sat there staring at the happy faces of those who knew what to write. They were filling their answer sheets. Mine was empty. They were drawing some diagrams but I didn’t know the question that required us to draw diagrams. I just sat and stare. I was sad. The invigilator was moving up and down at where I was seated. I guessed he suspected if anyone would try to copy, it would be the guy who hasn’t written anything on his sheet since work started. That was me.
So he kept moving up and down. At some point, I exercised courage. I called the invigilator. When he got closer, I whispered; “My future is hanging in the balance here, could you do anything to help me?” He looked down at my answer sheet. I saw pity on his face. He said, “the guy in front of you is doing everything right. You can ask him. Don’t be loud about it.” He walked to the guy and whispered something to him. Some minutes later, the guy looked back at me and ask “How may I help you?”
Somerset Maugham: “It’s a funny thing about life; if you refuse to accept anything but the best, you very often get it.” At that moment, there was only one question for me; “do you want the best or you want the worse?” The answer was straightforward. I wanted the best. The best was to pass the maths exams. The only way I could do that was to find someone who could ask: “how may I help you?” I did. I’m not justifying copying in exams. I’m justifying asking.
People don’t walk around seeking others to help. But if you can be bold about it. If you can sincerely ask for help, there are many people who are ready to help you. I’ve been rejected many times. I’ve been shamed at some point for asking. I told myself, people who rejected me might not be in the position to help. People who said no to me had to say no so they could say yes to something equally important in their lives. That’s alright. It doesn’t mean I have to stop there. It only means, find another person and ask.
How may I help you today? what can I do for you today to lessen your burden? Can you ask for what you genuinely need? Asking for help doesn’t make you weak. It only means you human. Humans need help from another. There are no bad people. There are people who cannot help you. There are no good people. There are people who can help you and actually help. Just ask!
So, I ask. Genuinely. What can I do to help you now?
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