Tuesday, April 7, 2009

What Happens When You Ask For Help

Asking for help from others is essential to get anything you want in life. We simply can’t achieve anything of any magnitude on our own. Perhaps this help is in the form of an informational interview, an introduction to someone in the position to fill a job, or an invitation to an event. The bottom line is that we need the support of others if we are to succeed.

Asking for help even from people you know well often is difficult, and even more challenging as you seek assistance from those whom you don’t know as well. Regardless of the specific situation, I've observed the following responses over the years as I've reached out to scores of others to seek specific information, guidance, or inspiration:

* No response. The call, e-mail, or letter is not acknowledged in any way.

* Acknowledgment of my request followed by a promise to help. More often than not, this response reflects the respondent's effort to be polite without a commitment to act. Sometimes the respondent actually will provide a stream of opportunities or information.

* Enthusiasm and delight, accompanied by a willingness to help me in whatever way he or she can. Sometimes this individual comes through as advertised; sometimes, he or she does not.

In short, I've learned through experience that when I ask for help I can never be certain about what response I'll get (if any) or from whom. Moreover, what people say and what they'll do to help are two very different things. So I’ve learned not to have expectations! That said, I cherish the many people who've helped me over the years and challenge myself to continue to reach out as appropriate, while at the same time dashing my visions about what such help looks like, who actually provides it, and when.

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