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Reflections on the first year: asking for help

I was having a glass of wine with a friend who had also volunteered in Uganda when she said, “you know, often the people who are best at giving help, are the worst at receiving help. They are reluctant to accept it for some reason.”

One year ago that described me to a T. I literally flew around the world to volunteer for others, but if I had to ask a friend to spend two hours teaching me something, I felt like I was asking too much.

Despite the fact I have absolutely no business training, I decided to launch a social business right out of school (it’s funny how that decision made perfect sense one year ago). By necessity, I was going to have to get tons of help along the way.

At first, I was nervous about asking people for help and advice.

But then I realized something that should have been obvious: most of the time I enjoy helping people and offering advice; other people will probably enjoy helping me too – or if they don’t enjoy it, they probably won’t mind.

And I found out I was right: virtually everyone I’ve asked for help – friends, family, students I work with, and even the CEOs of a few businesses – have been perfectly happy to help me out.

Though it really should have been perfectly obvious given my line of work, I learned that people really do like helping other people.

Since then, I’ve gotten good at asking for help when I need it. If a friend or contact is much better at something than I am, I’ll call and ask how they do what they’re doing, or if they can just do it for me.

This habit has seriously sped up my effectiveness. Instead of dealing with endless bouts of trial and error until I find something that works, I can quickly get solutions by asking for help. This has made my life significantly better.

It is often said that the secret to success is helping other people. And while I do believe that this is  true, I also believe that asking for help when you need it, is a component part of success.

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