“The greatest good you can do for another is not just to share your riches, but to reveal to him his own.”
– Benjamin Disraeli
He looked as if he knew what he was doing, the middle-aged man carrying his basket through the aisle at the grocery store that afternoon. As is my modus operandi, I was traipsing through the store (rushing actually) to pick up a “few items” (which ends up being 20 as my cart fills up with 13 other things that I forgot that we needed).
“Do you know which type of curry is which?” he asked me with true vulnerability and need. “Excuse me Ma’am, I am a bachelor and I’m really trying to learn how to cook for myself. I’m making chicken curry stir-fry from this recipe that I got off of the internet.” He told me he was able to find the laundry list of other ingredients for the recipe, “but I don’t know which type of curry it calls for. Do you cook? Will you please help me?”
Not only was I absolutely willing to help him, but it made me feel so happy to share the experience and the skills that I happened to have garnered along the way in the hopes of adding some joy and ease to this stranger’s life.
Here’s how our shopping partnership transpired. I answered his vulnerability with my own and coached him to put many of those ingredients back on the shelf and just surrender to convenience. Then, I led this lovely man to the pre-made Campbell’s chicken curry stir-fry liquid mix. Hopefully, I added both hours as well as dollars to this man’s life. I do love to cook, but with just finishing up another surgery on my injured hand, the cooking ‘from-scratch’ thing just isn’t happening much these days. I’ve become a master at buying good, ready-made food and having to work around my disability. I surrendered to this just as I adapted to dictating, rather than typing this blog.
Asking for help is very difficult for many of us. Speaking for myself, after seven surgeries on my dominant hand I flat out just have to ask my husband and others for help at times. “Could you open this &!)@/# bag of chips for me before I take a knife to them and stab it open!” comes from my mouth numerous times a week.
Asking for help can make us feel weak, vulnerable, needy or incompetent. Maybe it triggers the feelings of I can’t, or I don’t know how, or now I will owe this person. It may make us feel like we are relinquishing control.
Quite conversely, asking those 5 powerful words, “will you please help me”, can not only solve the problem or question at hand, it also empowers others and offers them the opportunity to let their light shine and share their gifts with us. The greatest leaders of all time have engaged and inspired others by not hiding their need for help, but by celebrating and empowering those who help them along the way.
Historically, I’ve always tried to do everything on my own because I feel I am strong and self-sufficient; however, I’m learning to ask for help when I need it. As much as each and every one of you has gifts to offer another, please don’t be afraid to ask for their gifts in return. Use the five words that connect us in the spirit of humanity.
Bless you always,