Years ago, I remember getting a message from a principal that I had a great respect for, and is honestly one of the best leaders that I know. He had asked me to call him and so later that evening I did, and I remember that he asked me for some advice on things that he was dealing with in his school. I was actually a bit taken back because I had never thought that he would be in a situation where he would need my advice, but that was just a reminder to me that I had received over and over again.
The smartest people ask for help.
This is something that I have struggled with both personally and professionally, and sometimes overlapping. When I am feeling overwhelmed with work, I often bury my head down and just try to “work harder” out of it. This can leave me in a place, where my good friend Michelle King will say “only giving the ones you love your leftovers”. It is the same when I struggle personally, as I often feel comfortable sharing struggles in front of a large group, it is harder for me to share those same struggles with people on an individual basis. When in a large forum it is something that people can relate to and they connect with, but often when you share it in a small setting, it is now something that you have to deal with and face. This has often led me dealing with my own anxiety in a way that is counterproductive. Yet to the people that are closest to me I have always said that strength is not necessarily doing everything on your own, but strength comes in being comfortable in sharing vulnerability and being able to reach out.
This idea is something that we need to teach our kids as it seems that growing up is constantly becoming more complicated. There are times that I see all of the opportunities that kids have now in such a connected world and am envious, but there are also times that I think about my own maturity as a kid and how I am not sure I could have dealt with the complexity of it all. The default from many is to hide kids from much of what exists in the world, but that is a short term solution that does not prepare them for the world in front of them. We can encourage them to always be able to ask for help, but if we are not willing to model this ourselves, we exhibit the idea that this is more out of weakness than strength.
Whether it is personal, professional, or both, I truly believe that the smartest (and often strongest) people are always willing to ask for help.