Always Ask For Help

Dec 2020


I used to have horrible cars that would always end up broken down on the highway. When I tried to flag someone down, nobody stopped. But if I pushed my own car, other drivers would get out and push with me. If you want help, help yourself – people like to see that.

– Chris Rock

“From what I’ve seen, it isn’t so much the act of asking that paralyzes us–it’s what lies beneath: the fear of being vulnerable, the fear of rejection, the fear of looking needy or weak.

– Amanda Palme

My grandfather once told me a story that has always resonated with me. It goes something like this:

“A little boy was having difficulty lifting a heavy stone. His father came along just then. Noting the boy’s failure, he asked, “Are you using all your strength?” “Yes, I am,” the little boy said impatiently and continues to struggle lifting the stone. A moment passes and the father asks again, “Are you using all your strength?” “Yes, I am,” the little boy says again, straining. “No, you are not,” the father answered. “I am right here just waiting…and you haven’t asked me to help you.”

I’ve tried to find where that story came from but the best I can find is that the author is anonymous or unknown. My grandfather meant it as a story to teach me that he was always there for me if I needed help, I had only to ask for it. That it is not a sign of weakness to ask for help and to rely on others. But a sign of strength. That it is those who can call on the strength of those around them that are the strongest.

I think it applies to more than just my family. I think that the world is structured to help those who ask for it. Because I believe people, even powerful people, are fundamentally altruistic and want to help you if they know you need it and you ask for it. That’s not to say if you always ask for help you’ll receive it. But if you don’t ask then you definitely won’t.

I think the axiom applies to more than just asking for help, but in asking for anything. People rarely receive things if they don’t ask for them. They are rarely rewarded without asking to be rewarded. So to get the things in life that you want you have to ask for them.