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The spot for the good news, the good word, the quick reports of the many, many wonderful news items I hear all the time and want to share with the rest of you. Expect to find the good news when you come to check out "what’s the good word?"

Thursday, February 17, 2011


Does anyone remember a very old tv commercial that ended with a young woman saying in a very whiny voice? But Mother, I’d rather do it myself. I can’t even think what was been advertised, but I can hear that voice in my mind’s ear as plain as day.

It seems to me that many of us “would rather do it myself” plenty of times when we really, really ought to be letting someone else do “it.”

Sometimes it’s a matter of “if you want it done right, just do it yourself.” We don’t entirely trust that someone else has all the background on the situation, or maybe they lack experience to handle a tough job or maybe they don’t appear to have enough time to take on another task. Maybe we’re aware of something in their life that will make this task difficult or might add extra pressure we’ve decided they don’t need. So...we just “do it myself.”

I suspect, if we’re honest, sometimes we don’t ask because we aren’t sure how to ask. And how to ask can be very important. I’ve been giving some thought recently to how our mentors, advocates, coaches will be operating. We have got great people starting to line up willing and eager to help. We’ll even be suggesting, sometime soon, that one of the means of developing some very important skills is to make greater use of the mentors, advocates, coaches at the ready to help us. This will mean that some of us will need to Ask for help. And that may be the hardest thing!

Someone has said that the most important step to finding the answer is to find the right question. One of the critical questions becomes: can you help me?

But that’s just too vague. So here’s my advice for us today as we continue thinking about our very real (and sometimes desperate) need for help. Figure out what you are asking for. Figure out just what you want from this person you’ve approached for help.

What do you want to learn? Or what it is you’d like them to do? How long do you think it might take? What sort of commitment are you looking for? When do you want them to start, or finish? Is there some dead-line they need to know about? Have you got a specific project or time line to consider? What about expenses? How will you communicate? Do you need regular check-in times, progress reports, trial runs? Who else is involved? Is there any opportunity for doubling up or over-lapping? Can we accomplish more results with different effort? What other questions can you think of that might help us articulate more clearly what we’re asking for? This could be the hardest part.

One of the most important skills we—all of us—need to perfect, is the skill of the “ask.” We must learn how to ask for what we need. It’s how we’ll add to our own understanding; it’s how we’ll share the load; it’s how we’ll bring along the next generation of workers. We’ve got to stop “just doing it ourselves” when we should be delegating or educating or strengthening our communities.

As those prophets Jagger & Richards have told us: we may not always get what we want, but if we try, we may get some of what we need.

Trying may just include asking well.

Posted by Marion


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