Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it.
This is one of the first things I try to embed into the thinking of new student leaders.
Think about it…How many times have you been in a crisis, a failure, a missed opportunity because someone failed to simply ask for assistance?
I wrote a series of posts a few years back to encourage my student leaders to ask for help. I’ve combined and edited those posts into a brief ebook.
This is a practical document to put in the hands of student leaders right at the beginning. It contains helpful guidance on the following:
- The difference between asking for help and being helpless
- Identifying the intrinsic motivation in others
- Recognizing the reasons why we won’t ask for help
- The benefits others get when you ask them for help
- Creative ways to ask for help without actually using the word “help”
Your students will be able to read the whole thing in as little as five minutes. It’s an effective conversation starter. Invite your student leaders to read it before your next meeting and then discuss all of the reasons why they might not be willing to ask for help when they need it.
As always, this resource is a free download. You’re more than welcome to distribute it and share it.
I’ve noticed a trend lately. You, the beloved readers of this site, tend to respond more positively to the posts that highlight my weaknesses.
Thanks for the encouragement…I think.
With that in mind, I thought I’d once again dig down deep into the archives of my personal experience. I want to share some of the ways (there’s probably a lot more) that I have missed the mark for no other reason than…me. I was rolling along nicely – growing and learning. Then suddenly I ran into a wall of my own making.
The good news is I’ve learned something from each of these self-inflicted actions. Sometimes you need to get out of your own way so you can move forward. Perhaps you’ll see yourself in one or two of these…
1. I don’t do anything. I hope there will be some cosmic force that causes things to work out on their own.
What are you doing?
Not right now. I know what you’re doing right now.
The reason I ask is because I was reminded again today about all of the things I do that keep me from doing what needs to be done.
I surf the web.
I tweet and retweet.
I check Facebook.
I look at my email.
I write lists.
I read blogs 🙂
I play Words With Friends.
I check in again at Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, Instagram, and Email.
And at the end of the day – that moment when I lay my head on my pillow (placing my cell phone on the nightstand where I can do most of those things above one more time) – the question comes back around: What are you doing?
Has anyone ever said this to you?
“Only boring people are bored.”
This is one of those classic pieces of parental wisdom that I received from time to time growing up.
It usually came on the heels of me pacing around the house, staring into the refrigerator countless times, and exhaling a deep sigh with the words: “I’m bored.”
The corrective response was meant to awaken some inner motivation within me. While I believed it was okay to be bored, I didn’t want to be known as a boring person. Thus, I was encouraged to find something useful to do with my time.
Growing up, boredom was an unacceptable posture towards life.
When it comes to leadership, creativity, and influence, the opposite might be true as well: only bored people are boring.
Think about the speech you weren’t very excited to deliver.
Think about the paper you submitted that rambled on to meet the word count.
Think about the project you were required to accomplish but your heart wasn’t in it.
What effect did it have on other people? What kind of impression did it make?
In most situations, boredom begets boredom. It’s contagious.
Sometimes I’ve gotten excited about a topic simply because the speaker, the writer, the teacher, or the leader was passionately excited about it.
Since I work on a University campus, I am surrounded by the ongoing dialogue about ideas and facts.
I like the conversations, the varying perspectives, and the notion that there might actually be more than one way to look at something.
In fact, when it comes to the development of one’s leadership capacity, I believe it’s important to grow in one’s awareness of possibilities. It’s an awareness that says there’s more than one or two options here. It realizes that everything is not clear-cut or black-and-white. There are choices to be made and in the words of the poet Wallace Stevens, “the choice not between, but of.”
Unfortunately, opening oneself up to the thought of possibilities beyond one’s experience or knowledge can be frightening. We tend to compensate for this fear by becoming defensive, even more dogmatic, and by disengaging from someone else. I’ve seen students completely write someone off because the person holds an opposing viewpoint. One of the disappointing consequences of an either-or mindset is a feeling that if we don’t agree then we don’t relate.
In the Spring of most academic years, we elect and select our student leaders for the next year. We run campaigns, hold elections, and celebrate with those who won and encourage those who didn’t. We start to dream and plan for the next year.
Then summer happens.
Summer is a giant hole in the student leadership year. It’s like a big pause button.
Congratulations…you’re in. You get to lead. Now hold that thought for the next three months…
I know that most students see the summer as a chance to take a break from learning. Unfortunately, these types of breaks don’t exist in the world you’ll graduate into. Most positions don’t give you the summer off.