Today is April 24 and the Navigate the Chaos question to consider is “how often do you ask for help?” Leveraging your mind, body, and spirit sometimes requires us to consider asking for help. The inability to ask for help is, according to author Robert Kiyosaki, “one of the biggest defects in life.” It would be difficult to identify someone who navigated the chaos alone; completely unassisted by anyone.
Asking for help is a sign of strength. Failure to recognize this will most likely result in stalled progress along your navigation. The task of navigating the chaos is too arduous, too long, and too dynamic to be completed by any one person without assistance from a single individual. Life’s questions are often too challenging to answer alone. Research suggests those who have navigated the chaos understand how asking for help is a strength, and not, as often misunderstood, a sign of weakness.
As Forbes noted, the Great Work Study, conducted by the O.C. Tanner Institute, showed 72% of people who receive awards for their work ask for advice, help, insights, and opinions from people outside of their inner circle. In doing so, those workers generate fresh ideas and perspectives on how to solve problems that they otherwise would not have imagined. Asking for help and advice creates better, stronger, more successful results than not asking for help.
Additionally, Joan Rosenberg noted in Psychology Today, "asking for help is an essential aspect of emotional strength. When you are willing to lean on those who offer their help and support, you become more centered and calmer. That sense of inner peace is another outgrowth of emotional strength.” The Wright brothers are one example of how asking for help made a difference.
In 1878, brothers Orville and Wilbur Wright received a toy helicopter with twirling blades powered by a rubber band as a gift from their father. This toy sparked their interest in flight. After designing and building a printing press, the brothers opened a bicycle shop in Dayton, Ohio. By 1896, the pair had manufactured their own brand of bicycles and turned their attention toward flight. Between 1900 and 1902, the brothers experimented with kites, gliders, and a wind tunnel and on December 17, 1903, flew the first successful heavier-than-air powered aircraft near Kill Devil Hills, about four miles south of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.
Throughout their work on the airplane, the Wright brothers pioneered wind tunnel designs and tests as shared space for flight design where they could collaborate with each other as well as those interested in supporting their vision. Along the way the Wright brothers enlisted the help of many people. For example, in a letter to the Smithsonian Institution, Wilbur wrote “I am an enthusiast, but not a crank in the sense that I have some pet theories as to the proper construction of a flying machine. I wish to avail myself of all that is already known and then if possible, add my mite to help on the future worker who will attain final success.”
After collecting reference material from the Smithsonian and other sources, the Wright brothers began studying their predecessors. They were surprised to learn that, despite humanity’s centuries-old interest in flight, little progress had been made in aeronautics before 1800. Until that time, few trained scientists or mechanics thought it a sensible undertaking. The brothers also received help from Charles Taylor the man who built the engine for the first powered aircraft. Taylor, a mechanic who worked in the Dayton, Ohio, bicycle shop owned by Orville and Wilbur Wright, is credited with building the lightweight engine that powered the craft that took flight at Kitty Hawk, N.C., on December 17, 1903.
As Michael Muskal of the LA Times wrote on July 22, 2014 “If the Wright brothers get the credit for starting the aviation industry, Taylor is the man with a greasy wrench who made it all work.” In 2014 officials at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton unveiled a bronze bust of Taylor. In a post on the museum’s website, director Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Jack Hudson, praised Taylor and wrote: “The importance of Charles Taylor’s role in helping the Wright brothers achieve their dream of heavier-than-air powered flight should not be understated. His development of a lightweight engine for propulsion was critical, and Taylor’s story of innovation serves as an inspiration -- especially for those pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering, and math.”
Latin American civil rights activist César Estrada Chávez noted “You are never strong enough that you don’t need help.” Asking for help is difficult. Getting feedback from others might be perceived as a weakness. But remember, it is just that – a perception. If you are looking for a strategy able to help you grow stronger, more confident, and successful, try asking for help. Doing so might be the one strategy to surprise you while navigating the chaos. The Wright brothers asked for help and changed the course of history.
How often do you ask for help?
If you are not asking for help why do you think that is?
How often are you providing help to others even when they do not ask for it?
How responsive are you when others ask you for your help?
Do you invite others to ask you for help? If not, why not?