E-couragement: The Hardest Word

July 9, 2012

The EXTRAordinary! Inc. HELP Team

Sometimes I choose my blog topic, other times, it chooses me. This particular blog picked me. It began as a nudge driving along Interstate 40 on my way to visit a client. While enjoying the solitude and minding my own business an Elton John song entered my head. I began humming the lyrics to “sorry seems to be the hardest word.” Then the lesson behind this blog emerged. Yes, sorry can be a difficult word, yet experience has taught me that there is another word, which for many people is truly the hardest word of all.

If Sir Elton John is incorrect and sorry isn’t the hardest word, then what is? It’s a word I grew up fearing more than any other. As a male, I was taught that this word represented weakness, incompetence, and lack of confidence. Here it is: HELP. As in, “will you HELP me?” For the first thirty five years of my life I eluded this word as if it were the fabled Jersey Devil. Even as life seemed to crumble around me, I refused to turn to it. Fortunately, over that last decade it has slowly become my trusted confidant.

The year 2012 has been a teacher for me. While I’ve learned to ask for HELP in my personal life I’ve been resistant to it professionally. Apparently I’ve preferred the John Wayne leadership model: get it all done myself. On Monday July 2 it was clear, all that has changed. I was sitting in the conference room at G-Force Marketing looking at my professional HELP team. We were gathered to conduct our EXTRAordinary! Inc. yearly strategy session. I felt a sense of relief and gratitude to have this group of experts supporting and encouraging me. What a gift to have people like Jerome Daley, Mitch Miles, Rod Clayton, Stephanie Reeser, and Elaine Penn partner with me. They are people I rely on—people I trust. They’re intelligent, creative, and thoughtful…and they’ve willingly accepted my invitation to HELP.

Can an engaging leader ask for and receive HELP? Because of the people pictured here, I’ve discovered the answer to be a resounding YES. I no longer believe that asking for help represents weakness, incompetence, or lack of confidence. I now know that a leader who is willing to ask for HELP is actually strong, skilled, and courageous. Thanks for your HELP team. I am truly grateful for you.

Leave your comment: Where in your life have you had the courage to ask for help? What was the outcome?

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14 Responses to “E-couragement: The Hardest Word”

  1. Inspirational, as always!! Still waiting to hear when your book will be available for purchase!!

  2. Thank you Linda. My writing coach is working hard on the final edits. Believing in an initial launch by the end of summer early fall.

  3. Love this comment:
    “A leader who is willing to ask for HELP is actually strong, skilled, and courageous” … thanks Rich!

  4. Thanks Kevin. Appreciate your affirmation, that means a lot.

  5. Excellent post, as usual, Rich!
    Our resistance to asking for help is fascinating, especially when we consider how much like we actually like to help others, to feel included, effective, purposeful. Tapping collective human potential is good leadership!

  6. I can certainly appreciate this one. The word “help” has always be a tough one for me, but in the opposite way. I have no problems asking my professional team for help. It makes them feel involved and keeps them engaged in the process and the projects. In my personal life, it’s a bit more difficult. I find myself giving a lot of help, but rarely asking for it. Reaching out is still a challenge for me, but I’m working on it.

  7. Thanks for your input Cindi. Interesting how we like to help others yet refuse to ask for it. Perhaps it’s the illusion of power? Fascinating is the right word. Appreciate your thoughts on this.

  8. Linda, interesting how we have different struggles with the same word! I remind myself that by refuse to receive help I’m taking a blessing away from someone’s opportunity to help me. It’s difficult none the less! Thanks.

  9. Hi Rich,
    As always a great post. Well done, sir. Surprisingly, off screen John Wayne was a very average guy. He once remarked. “Saying you have made a mistake is the same thing as saying, ‘I know more now than I did before.'” But, you are right, he certainly was the strong silent type for sure in the movies. The worse thing about being a solo helping professional is the lack of reciprocity in most relationships. Of course, this is as it should be given professional boundaries, but sometimes it’s very draining. I have gotten help may times in my life and am grateful that people were there for me. As Francis Bacon said, “Without friends, life is but a wilderness.” Hope all is well on your side of the world.

  10. Great to hear from you Tom. Yes, asking for and receiving help can provide some of life’s richest experiences. Thanks for modeling that. I’ll follow up so we can schedule another time of good food, fine wine, and engaging conversation! Thanks friend.

  11. “Help! I need somebody. Help! Not just anybody.”: )

    I recall when Elaine Penn called to ask if she could help and you said yes! Hence, those lovely Sunday Brunches which I thoroughly enjoyed sharing with you and the others.

    A true leader has the insight to know the right person to ask for help.

  12. Nice lyrics Lisa. Yes, Elaine has been a huge help during my transition. She gathered the group together to support me at our first Sunday brunch after Ivy had died. She took me out to dinner. What a life saver she has been. You are correct, it all started with her offer to help and my willingness to say, “YES!” Good reminder my friend…

  13. None Of Us Are Smart Enough Or Strong Enough To Make It On Our Own. If We Have Surrounded Ourselves With “Our Own People”, People We Trust And Feel Safe With, We Are Truely Blessed. Our Mission Is To Have The Wisdom To Know When To Ask, Then Listen… Then Hopefully, We Will Be Able To Help Others. Thanks For The As Usual Great Post.

  14. Wise thoughts Charlie. None of us achieve success on our own. Plugging into the support and strengths of others makes perfect sense. Thanks for your input.

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