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Asking for Help: Givers and Takers

Have you read Adam Grant’s new book, Give and Take? If not, I highly recommend it. It is a thought provoking read full of great research and an opportunity for self-awareness. Even better, here is his TedTalk on the topic and a quick assessment to tell you if you are a giver or a taker.

Long story short, I’m an off the charts giver, to my own detriment at times. The good news, I’m a generous person and thrilled to help others. The bad news, as you will learn if you read the book, givers can be some of the worst producers. However, his research published in this HBR article also found that “higher rates of giving were predictive of higher unit profitability, productivity, efficiency, and customer satisfaction, along with lower costs and turnover rates.”

This paradox sent me on a path of self-discovery that I’ll share in case it is helpful to other “givers” out there.

As a giver, could it be that I’ve missed half the equation?

I don’t want to ask for help. It’s hard for me to do so. I don’t like how it makes me feel. But, what if that is my greatest learning.? What if, it’s ok to be a receiver too?

This awareness surfaced a rather interesting question relating to generosity. What if receiving help, love, or assistance is an act of giving as well?  What if by receiving, we offer another the opportunity to give? What if, by not asking for help, we shut off the flow of generosity?  Most alarming, do we rob another of the chance to give when we do not ask for help?

Let me share a quick example. I know my website needs a refresh so I asked a colleague for feedback on how to better convey my message and brand. While this was not a big ask, it was still awkward for me. However, my colleague stepped up to the plate. He provided exceptional feedback and suggestions for how I can show up more fully in my web presence and clarify my purpose and services. Through my ask for help, he was able to give generously of his time, intellect, and perspective.  He shared with me later, “it felt good”.  Right! It feels good to be helpful!

You know the feeling you get when you put a long-held belief on the table and take a good look to simply find you are full of shit? The belief you’ve held is simply not your experience anymore.  What happened to that blissful feeling of certainty? Well, that’s change. Let it go.

I was left feeling overwhelmed by the idea that if I want to truly be generous and giving in the world, I may just have to change my strategy and belief. The “ASK” may be my biggest opportunity. The act of receiving may be my next growth edge. Can I openly receive and welcome all the help possible without feeling like a mooch, a slacker, or that I’m not working hard enough? Am I willing to meet the world with wholeness in generosity versus the one-sided strategy I’ve become so comfortable with?

The answer is yes. It’s time to let go of that part of me who is scared to be vulnerable and afraid to ask for what I really want and need. I apologize in advance to all my friends, family, and colleagues out there who may be quite surprised to see and experience this new side of me and I ask for your support up front as I tinker with just another experiment in this science fair of life.