I’m sure you’ve overheard someone in passing professing that “no one helps them.”

Perhaps you’ve uttered these words yourself. As Canadians, we are fiercely independent. We are strong and proud, and admittedly don’t like asking for help. No one does.

We are all guilty of it. I can think of more than a dozen times when I refused to ask for help and begrudgingly muddled along to finish a project I was working on with less success, and exerting more effort than I had intended.

I might have announced to someone in passing that I had so much to do, and how would I finish it all. Interestingly, the one thing I didn’t do was ask for help. Perhaps someone even asked me if I wanted a hand, but I was too proud to take them up on their offer.


Wouldn’t it be a lot simpler, if whenever we needed help from someone, we simply just asked? That we stopped beating around the bush, hoping someone would volunteer, implying it would be great to get help. I can’t recall a time when someone specifically asked for help that I refused. Perhaps it’s all in the means we go about asking.

It won’t be easy, at least not at the beginning. Like many others, I am not a natural delegator. I take pride in doing a task from start to finish. I like challenging myself to do things I’ve never done before. But somewhere in all that, I lose myself.

By the end of a task I am much less excited about it, and may even resent that I had to do it. All because I was too afraid to ask for help.

Asking for help enables us to build a stronger community. It gives us an opportunity to get to know one another better. It helps us grow our own strengths and skills, and gives us an opportunity to teach others new ones. It lets us engage experts in areas they are experts in. I don’t need to be great at everything, but I do need to get better at asking people who are to help out.

Once we’ve mastered the art of asking for help, we need to match it with the art of saying thanks. I help someone because I want to, not because I’m looking for a reward, or a favour in return. A simple thanks is all I need.

Correction - December 21, 2009, 11:54 am EST: A previous
version of this story incorrectly identified the writer of this column as Rochelle Owen. The writer is in fact Christina Biluk.

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