Ask for Help
“Ask for help. Not because you are weak. But because you want to remain strong.” Les Brown
I love helping others. But I struggle to ask for help when I need it. I don’t want to be an imposition on others or have to rely on people. But I’m learning that if you want to go far you need to ask for help.
When I first took over Toronto Dance Salsa I was struggling. Suddenly I was in charge of a massive dance school. I had no leadership or business experience. Logistics is not one of my strengths. I was messing up class schedules and giving inaccurate information to students and prospective students.
There was also stress at home. I was living with my girlfriend and we were always fighting. I was not spending enough time with her because my work was so busy. The pressure was building and I had no outlet. I kept thinking that everything was going to be fine. I simply had to figure out the next problem and the next. But I was overwhelmed.
After about two weeks of mounting stress, I walked into my mentor’s home so he could coach me on running a business. As I placed the two cups of coffee and doughnuts that I had brought on the kitchen counter, he said, “How’s it going?”
It was a simple greeting and more of an indication that he was ready to get to work. But the dam broke. My body started to shake, and tears began running down my face. I was sobbing in front of my mentor. The man that I respect and admire. And I wanted to impress him but I was crying like a baby. And the first thing out of my mouth was, “It is all so hard!” As I continued crying, I was so embarrassed that I took the baseball cap I was wearing and covered my face. He listened to me sob about how lonely I was, how difficult everything was, and how I felt like I was doing everything wrong.
He was so patient. And after fifteen minutes, he said, “Ok. You should go home and sleep.”
I looked up with my red and puffy face but was very confused. “Now?” But we have work to do. We have to work on the business!”
He assured me that rest and sleep were necessary. And that when I woke up and my girlfriend came home, I should share with her how lonely I felt and all my struggles. Panic set in once again. “I can’t!” Ever patient, he asked why. “Because I have to take care of this myself. It is not her problem.”
“Dude, this is how you got to this point. Go home. Sleep. And then share.”
So I went home. I lay on the couch and collapsed. Physically and mentally drained, I slept for a solid five hours. In the evening, my girlfriend came home and called out, “Hey, how are you? I brought some food. We’re going to make dinner together.”
I didn’t hear the door open or her walk in. It was her voice that woke me. Immediately I started quietly crying. I was scared. If I shared my struggles, I was sure I would disappoint her. She could hear the small sobs. Immediately, she dropped the groceries, ran across the living room, got down on her knees, placed her hand on mine and said “What’s going on? What’s wrong?”
Through my tears, I confided in her. As I told her of my struggles with loneliness, the business and our relationship, she held me.
I don’t remember any of the advice that my mentor or my girlfriend gave me. That wasn’t what I needed. What I needed was support. Once I shared my struggles, the next few days got easier. And then the next few weeks got easier.
What I learned is that in our darkest moments, often all we need is company. We need someone to listen to our burdens. It is not my mentor’s, my girlfriend’s or anyone’s fault that they didn’t see my struggles. It is my responsibility to invite people into my life and let them share in my journey. So ask for help and let people in. Your life will become easier.
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