There was a period of my life in which I thought I had to do everything on my own. I thought this for many different reasons. I was used to pushing forward with things, other people might slow me down, I didn’t need help etc. I had bought into the stereotype, so prevalent in our society, of the lone wolf who succeeds by sheer force of will, grit, and determination, and while there is some truth to that, it’s only half the story. The other half of the story is other people. I was fortunate to be surrounded by great friends, and one, in particular, said to me, “Darin, no man is an island.”, something I still reflect on to this day, many years later.
We exist in a web of inter-connectivity. Sometimes our actions, thoughts or feelings serve to separate us, to give the illusion that we are apart, but we are not. We succeed or fail in life not just through our own efforts, but through the efforts of those around us. Sometimes it’s the people who mentored us, the family that raised us, the friends around us, the colleagues we work with, our current family, or spouse, any number of relationships that got us to where we are today. For others, they have had to overcome terrible odds with far fewer connections, but still, there was someone along the way.
Do you remember those who have helped you along the way? Who mentored you? Supported you, helped you to get where you are today?
It’s a funny thing because sometimes we forget about the power of asking others for help. Some of us have had a history of people saying no due to prejudice, social status, race, gender and other issues, and may have given up on asking for help. I’ve had people say this before. It’s a phenomenon called learned helplessness and was researched by psychologist Martin Seligman. I’ll give a brief example. Chain an elephant to a tree for years and then take the chain off and it may never leave the tree, being conditioned by the chain, even though it is now free.
All of us, as human beings, need to reflect on the ways in which we have been chained, but now may be free and not even realize it. So, asking for help may be just what you need to move forward in your life, career, or relationship. Here’s Steve Jobs talking about this very concept (video is under 2minutes)…