No one who achieves success does so without acknowledging the help of others. The wise and confident acknowledge this help with gratitude
-Alfred North Whitehead
As someone who has overcome many obstacles in my life, surviving cancer, becoming physically disabled, and re-teaching myself to walk, I take great pride in my independence or being able to do things on my own. One of my biggest pet peeves in life is being dependent on others or being a burden to those around me. So as you can imagine, it is sometimes very difficult for me to accept help from someone.
Last week, I attended a grant writing conference hosted by the governor’s office. It was a fantastic opportunity to network with others and a wonderful learning experience. Despite my unsteady gait and my lack of gracefulness when I walk, I didn’t fall the entire day! To most people this probably sounds ridiculous but there was a time in my life that I would’ve fallen a million times in one day. And especially when I’m nervous, which I was, but somehow my feet cooperated (thank goodness!)
As I was getting ready to leave the conference and stood up from my seat after listening to some great presenters, my legs gave out on me and I stumbled backwards, slowly catching my balance. The woman sitting behind me reached for my hand, took a hold, and gathering her things, she walked with me to where I needed to go. In that split second, I felt so embarrassed because here I am sitting in the front of the room, nearly falling into the stage, distracting everyone and probably giving a few people a heart attack. (I always have to make a grand entrance/exit) But what added to my humiliation was this woman, who I hadn’t spoken to all day, was now holding onto my arm, helping me walk out of the room. As we reached the corridor outside of the conference room, I thanked her and said if she wanted to go back and listen to the Q&A, that I would be okay to walk by myself. She just paused, gave me a look, and insisted on helping me to where I needed to go. Years ago, I would have protested and let my pride take over but instead I thanked her once again and we headed in the direction of the doors outside as she held onto my arm.
On my ride home, I thought about this woman and how even though we didn’t even know each other, she saw me struggling and felt the need to help me-how sweet of her! Hopefully I didn’t offend her by my initial protesting. It is moments like these that teach me there is nothing wrong with letting go of my pride and accepting a helping hand from time to time. By allowing someone to help you, whether it is through constructive criticism, a different perspective, or a kind gesture, we are recognizing that we are not perfect (that’s hard to swallow) , losing our pride, and are able to grow as an individual. Through accepting help, we also express gratitude and thankfulness to those around us, lifting them up and showing that they are appreciated. And isn’t that something we all want, to know that we are appreciated and valued by those around us?! Even if we are complete strangers to each other?
So next time someone offers their assistance in some way, before you give them a dirty look or say that you can do it on your own, STOP, let go of your pride and stubbornness and accept a helping hand.
“Be strong enough to stand alone, smart enough to know when you need help, and brave enough to ask for it”
-Ziad K Abdelnour