SOCIETY TALK

Don’t be afraid to ask for help

Our childhood curiosity is replaced by fear of judgement and false self-belief

In Summary

• Weeks of workout without change drove me to reach out and ask for help

Sports enterprenuer Evalyn Oloo during a workout session
Sports enterprenuer Evalyn Oloo during a workout session
Image: COURTESY

Coming off the post-honeymoon phase of my marriage, I looked at the mirror and saw myself for who I currently am. A person who has added a few extra kilos from the indulgences of a post-honeymoon period.

Therefore, I decided to make a change, to eat better and to work out regularly to improve my health. I have been at it by myself for many weeks without any significant changes. Finally I realised I could not do it by myself and that it was time to get help.

I looked back and realised it was very hard for me to reach out and ask for help. That I only did it out of desperation to make progress with my changes. I started looking back at all the times where I would try desperately to do something by myself without asking for help. I realised it is a common tendency, especially in our adult years, to fear asking for help.  

 

If you look at a child today, you will notice they are brave in facing the truth. A child will never fear to tell you they do not know something. “I don’t know.” A simple but vulnerable truth. It is because children know they have not lived long enough to have all the answers. They will always ask for help. When a child is stuck on a math problem, for instance, they will ask a classmate, a teacher or a parent to help them. When a kid is not tall enough to reach a high shelf, they will ask for assistance.

However, we grow up to believe that at a certain point in our lives, we have lived long enough to know all the answers. We delude ourselves into believing that not knowing something is a damaging character trait and that asking for help is a sign of weakness. We fear that we will be seen as incapable or too needy if we ask for help.

Some people believe asking for help or simply saying you don’t know something in a professional setting is damaging to one’s career. However, this could not be farther from the truth. Asking for help takes courage; it shows the person has confidence in his abilities. It is a sign of resourcefulness as it confirms the person is eager to learn more.

Whether it be in our careers or personal lives, humans go through an ever-evolving path of growth and development. This means we are on a continuous learning cycle. That makes it improbable for one to know everything. We, therefore, need to learn from others.

Some of the world’s greatest leaders have openly admitted to asking for help in their careers. They are known to surround themselves with people who are experts in various fields so they can ask for help in areas they are not familiar with or that are outside their control.

Mark Zuckerberg is known for creating one of the most popular social media sites in the world, but in March 2019, he came out publicly to say he needed help running it. Although Zuckerberg spends a lot of time and money policing Facebook, he still called on governments and lawmakers across the word to regulate Internet freedom to protect users from harmful material.  

While giving a speech to high schoolers in Virginia, former US President Barrack Obama is famously quoted as saying, “Don't be afraid to ask questions. Don't be afraid to ask for help when you need it. I do that every day. Asking for help isn't a sign of weakness, it's a sign of strength. It shows you have the courage to admit when you don't know something and to learn something new.”