A Secret Ingredient of Successful People

large-heavyMy friend Jaime awhile back sent me this story.

“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.
‘No, you are not,’ the father answered.
‘I am right here just waiting, and you haven’t asked me to help you.'”

The more I reflect on my own life and listen to so many people talk about theirs, I’m struck by the truth that it is easy for us to get so caught up in our individual challenges–we’re so lost in the weeds of our own lives, or so focused on lifting the heavy stones–we don’t notice and take advantage of people around us who would be willing to support us if we just asked.

Ten Minute Consult

In my strengths coaching at Amazon Lab 126, one of the ways I encouraged teams to utilize strengths that the team didn’t possess was what I call “Ten Minute Consult.”  Call up someone in the department who isn’t on your team but who has the strength you need and make the simple ask:  “Hey, would you be willing to give us 10 minutes of consulting time?  We’re faced with a problem we really could use your strength to advise us with.”

It’s a simply strategy that doesn’t require a lot of time.  But it continues to build on one of the most important paradigms for effective living:  collaboration.

Collaboration & Interdependence

I think it’s a genius reality that none of us is omnicompetent, none of us possesses all the strengths as our top strength.  It forces us to recognize our interdependence upon others.

Successful people rely upon others and their strengths to lift their heavy stones.  They choose to live by the truism,

We are stronger together than by ourselves.

One of the outcomes of this willingness to collaborate is validation and affirmation.  It feels good to be asked to contribute from your place of strength.  It feels validating to have one of your strengths affirmed and needed.

Don’t Choose For Someone – Ask

It’s sad that so many of us hesitate asking others for help because we don’t want to inconvenience them or make them feel pressured in some way.  We essentially make the choice for them by simply not asking.

And yet, truth is, we’ve consequently robbed them of affirmation and validation and the reward of using their strengths in a positive, productive way.  Why not let them decide?  Why not trust them to know what they’re wanting to do in any given moment and give them the opportunity to say Yes or No?  Why not give them opportunity to contribute their strengths to yours?

When a therapist was asked for one piece of advice he could give based upon all the wisdom he had gleaned from counseling thousands of people through the years, he made the profound observation:

“Know what you want, and learn to ask for it.”

Reflection Questions

So what heavy stones are you trying to lift these days?

What strengths do you need that you don’t have to help you accomplish this?

Who is around you that you could ask to assist you?

Have you been saying No for them without even asking?  What’s stopping you?

It’s time to schedule your next Ask.  Why not do what successful people do and get some help with your heavy stone.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

2 thoughts on “A Secret Ingredient of Successful People

    • Thanks, Re-Gene! So glad you were inspired and empowered by the post. We all need to reframe our typical paradigm of asking for help as a weakness and instead see it as a strength.

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