I host a huge Thanksgiving dinner at my house every year. In my normal routine cooking doesn’t often make the priority list. So I get it all in at once. For three days straight my sisters and I cook. We are more of an “ish” crew so the meal begins when everyone arrives and throughout the day people show up, they snack, they drink and they help.
I heard a story once about a robber who went to an elderly woman’s home to rob her. She was excited at the sight of an able bodied man at her door and rushed him in to help her move a large piece of furniture. She had several tasks that needed doing and she was gratefully walked him through them as he hung pictures and moved bureaus. The afternoon ended with some tea and cookies and two new friends.
Of course in a world where the Internet allows Abraham Lincoln to warn us of the dangers of Facebook, this story could be completely false. The point however, remains valid.
So many of us are afraid to ask for help, not wanting to impose, not wanting to look weak, not wanting to feel indebted. We look at it as a sign of weakness. In reality people feel better when they are helping. It allows them to connect. It allows them to have a place in the world.
I have a neighbor and we’ve known each other for years, we’ve always wanted to connect more but there seemed to be some barrier – time, the awkward childhood rejection trauma that makes us hesitate in creating friendships, who knows why the barrier was there. She removed that barrier in one very simple text, “I hate to bother you but I really need someone to hang out with my very needy toddler for 15 minutes so I can get this project done, could you possibly come by for a few minutes.” There it was – the connection created and not reversible. I was needed, I was a part of something, I was invited into her life and the barrier permanently crumbled away.
You want the people on your team to feel more connected to the work, your kids to feel more connected to the family, your friends to feel more connected to you. Invite them in. Ask them for some help, even just for 15 minutes, let them know they bring worth and value and that you need them. Doing it all yourself doesn’t make you a superhero, it makes you an island surrounded by people who feel unneeded.