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Saturday, March 13, 2010

JETNETTING: The First Impression Factor XXII: The Gift of Asking!

JetNetting with Heshie Segal

Asking for help: I bet you have never thought of it as a way of giving and thus expanding your network.

For most of us, it is easier to give than to receive. We see someone in need; we are ready to help. Have a challenge? We are there to offer a solution. Need a connection? We can help make one for you. It is so natural to give, especially for those who are good connectors. And these people are the same ones who frequently shrink into the background at the very thought of asking someone else for help.

I guess this would be an appropriate time to confess. That description used to fit me to a tee (and yes, there are times when I still revert to that tendency). “I do not want to bother anyone, or perhaps more importantly, I do not want anyone to think there is something I can not do. After all, I have to maintain my ‘superwoman’ image. It could be devastating for anyone to find out I was a mere mortal.” Or so I thought. (Some of you are shaking your heads right now. This is you! Right? If so, it is time to reconsider.)

I did not realize, with the beliefs I held, I was creating a wall others could not penetrate. I would help them and I would not let them reciprocate. I did not even realize how selfish I was being. After a while, I “embarrassed them away,” because the relationship was obviously so one sided. They would stop accepting help and my network slowly diminished, simply by me being too “helpful” and not a reciprocating friend. (I am not implying that you should NOT help; just that we live in a world of innate reciprocity). I also must mention the importance of recognizing there are some people who don’t mind being in a one-sided relationship, which demands that we create boundaries around how much we do.

In 1996, my life changed when a doctor cut my foot in the wrong place. Six weeks on crutches turned into 10 months in a wheelchair.

Sidebar: Imagine yourself, for the moment, being in a wheelchair. This is not an experience you would purposely choose and, it is one that would give you a new perspective and a greater appreciation for what you already possess – two working limbs you use everyday. If you were wheelchair-bound, what resources would you have?

Would you have someone who could devote the time and energy to take care of your all-consuming needs?

Would you feel like you were imposing if you had to ask for help?

How about when you felt like a nuisance if you had to ask for help from the same person, repeatedly?

If you answered “none” and “no” to the first two questions and “yes” to the last two, then you are like most people who don't notice their support network, and don't easily ask for help.

In my case I absolutely needed help and was forced to ask for it. Terror set in. Really! It was almost easier for me to crawl up and down steps and go hungry than it was to ask for help.

Fortunately, I was working with a coach who encouraged me to actually step out of my self-imposed box. It was not easy. And it did work. There were hurdles, and with time, I became braver and more forthright with asking for help.

There is one challenge that stands out for me above nearly all others. Initially it brought me to tears, then to the realization. I could actually help others by asserting my will and asking for help at the same time. It is a personal story from my past that changed my thinking. My hope is, by sharing it, it will open your eyes and enhance your life as well.

The person I was dating was going to Spain on a business trip. Everyone was bringing a spouse or significant other. I wanted to go. I was in a wheelchair. He was worried about my being an imposition for the wives of the other VP’s of this international company. “They'll feel obligated to take care of you,” he said. I was quite unhappy about this focus on his embarrassment by me potentially being a burden, rather than a happy companion. My self-sufficient nature answered back, “I can take care of myself. I can wheel myself around while you are in meetings.” He was clearly only thinking of his image. I was clearly thinking this relationship was about to end!

After several weeks of debate, I did accompany him to Spain. It was not going to be easy and yet, it was doable.

Test #1. Day One: The wives and the teens in the group asked me to join them on the tours. They insisted they would not go without me because I was the only one who spoke and understood some Spanish. After all, they had to eat and I could translate the menu! I was a little concerned about the uneven roads and unpaved walkways, and decided to go for it. They took turns pushing and even riding in my chair. After the first day, a light bulb seemed to go off for every one of them. They thanked me for being brave enough to come on the trip. They had never understood the challenges of being in a wheelchair and this gave them the opportunity to be of service. I was amazed at how helpful the teens were and how very important the bond was to them. It was all about being of service, leading to relationship building.

Test #2. The lack of ramps and the daunting steps that would have to be climbed during the group events were frightening. Again, I was either not going to participate or I would need help. That’s when the challenge began. It’s not what you are thinking. It was amazing. The macho men in the group actually argued over who was going to get to carry me up the steps (in the wheelchair). I got to be their workout session. And yes, there were times I was a bit tense when they had a contest to see who could push me the furthest and the fastest.

What I learned on that trip was I was not invincible. I needed to ask for help and not be super-woman. Also, I had given people the gift of serving me as well as an opportunity to understand the needs of a challenged individual.

From this story, I hope you have gleaned the importance of asking and how it can be a true gift. If you are one who is afraid to ask for help or you just don’t like to impose, well, it’s time to get over it! Challenge yourself. Take 21 days and ask someone for help each day. Be specific. It doesn't have to be a difficult request to fulfill. You could even use Twitter and do a shout out: “Is there anyone out there who can help me with ... ?”

In building relationships, there must be a flow of give and take. Do your share of each and watch your influence in both arenas expand exponentially.

If you need help, e-mail me at And we’ll see what I can do for you. In turn, when I need help, I too will know another loving soul in my life to call upon. What an awesome world we live in!

For more information, please visit Heshie's TNNW Bio.


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The Emergence of the Relationship Economy features TNNWC Founder, Adam J. Kovitz as a contributing author and contains some of his early work on The Laws of Relationship Capital. The book is available in hardcopy and e-book formats. With a forward written by Doc Searls (of Cluetrain Manifesto fame), it is considered a "must read" for anyone responsible for the strategic direction of their business. If you would like to purchase your own copy, please click the image above.


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