You know, I got the real acid test in asking for help a year ago. I think the Universe had this planned for me especially because my husband, (Johnny), and I had been so ill that our housework and maintenance work was suffering badly. My back and hip had progressed to the point that I couldn’t walk even with my canes or my walker. The doctor would not operate until I lost a significant amount of weight. And even though I was doing the best I could to get there, I still could not move to help increase my metabolism. I couldn’t move without severe pain so I knew any weight loss would not happen quickly –it would be awhile. I needed a new hip and it was a catch 22 that I had to have a new hip in order to exercise to lose the weight to qualify for a new hip.
To get any of the needed home maintenance and errands done, I asked a few people if they could give us some help and mostly I heard reasons why they wanted to help but they just did not have the “exact” time to do “exactly’ what we needed done. Some asked if we needed help and when I accepted their offer to help, I heard only variations on the previous theme!
So I thought I’d take a new tack. I asked others if they knew anyone needing some extra money. We were looking for someone who would be willing to do some cleaning and maintenance work around the house and yard for a good wage of $20/hr. We were not able to find even one person who either had the time or the inclination…Amazing.
Then one day, a neighbor who happened to know I was incapacitated dropped by and asked if there was anything we needed. I answered, “yes” and revealed we needed some groceries and a pick-up of meds for John and I. She cheerfully went and obtained what we needed. We were so grateful. I was also thankful that when she asked she was prepared to accept the request and actually fulfill the task.
What truly amazes me is that when people ask if they can help and you say, “Yes, we could use some help”, you then get to listen to the myriad of sidestepping reasons why they cannot do that one thing.
The next time someone asks if they can do anything for us, I’m going to say the same thing Jimmy Stewart says in the movie “Harvey”. The bystander asks Stewart, “Can I help you?”, Stewart answers, “Sure, what have you got in mind?”
There is a serious lesson here. We all say we are willing to help others – but are we really? We wait until they say, “I need help.” My whole last talk was on being the “caller” (freely offering help) not being the “callee” (who sits waiting to be asked to help). But there is a powerful edge to this coin…in being willing to do the thing needed to be done when called to do it.
Man, we all hate having to ask for help and if we’re lucky we’re usually on the side providing the help. But more than that, when you actually get up the guts to ask for the help you need or to answer, “Yes, we could use some help”…it’s even harder to listen to the variations of “Oops, I didn’t actually expect you to say you needed help, so, no, sorry, I really can’t help you even though I asked if you needed some.”
So, be prepared. If you ask me if I need help, I’m going to answer, “What have you got in mind?”