Today is a big day for me:  I’m set to have a digital strategy session with Ash Ambirge of The Middle Finger Project. This is my first big investment of time and formal ‘coaching’, and I’m very excited. A wish come clear is nearly 2 months old, and it’s time.

The decision to do consulting took me at least a week to think over. First, it meant spending money (I tend to be frugal.) Second, it signified an intent, a commitment to make this site all it can be. Third, it meant asking for help.

Can you guess which one was hardest?

You betcha. Asking for help, hands down.

Now, since Ash is superfabulous (and highly recommended), it made a lot of sense to ask for her help. Even so, it wasn’t easy. Yet I think it was one of the best things I could have done for myself and my work…and I say that not having had my session yet! (It’s in about an hour.)

If L’Arche has taught me anything about community, it’s that we need each other. We need to give help and receive help if we’re going to learn anything about love.

I think of my friend Pedro*, who loves to do his tarea (writing practice) every night. He asks for help, and an assistant traces letters onto the page. I also consider the times when I’ve knelt next to him, my strength gone, asking for his prayers. He has always interceded for me.

I think of my friend Cassandra, always wanting to go out, always asking, “You wanna go up the street?” Going out alone isn’t an option, and so she has to ask for assistance to do her favorite thing. I also consider the times when I’ve sat next to her, not saying a word, and she’s reached for my hand, or pulled me into a hug. In the times when I felt beyond comfort, she has comforted me.

I think of my friend Leo, and the time when the lid of his hamper unexpectedly popped off. He was frustrated by his attempts to replace it, and so he asked me for help to pop it back on. When I did so, he looked at me with relief and gratitude. “Thank you!” he said. “That lid had me worried!” It felt like the best thing I’d done all day, just replacing that lid, because it eased Leo’s mind. I also consider the times when he has showed me grace through his patience. Whenever I got lost on the road or wasn’t sure what to do to fix a problem, he never criticized me. He has given me room to grow, and for that I am glad.

Today, consider asking for help, and giving help as well. Put yourself into the cycle of giving and receiving, the rhythm of healthy community.

Let’s talk about asking first — because, if you’re anything like me, asking for help is more difficult. To get you started, here are my top 3 reasons why asking for help may be the best move you can make:

It shows that you are humble, and human. People who are willing to ask for help demonstrate humility. They are upfront about their strengths AND their weaknesses. Asking for help at the right time, in the right way, shows you as someone with a realistic view of their own capacity. This is humility:  being able to step back from the temptation to be grandiose and exaggerate one’s abilities. And humility may be at the root of what it means to be human.

It shows that you are invested in your work. Often, we fall into the trap of believing that the opposite is true:  if I don’t ever ask for help, it means that I’m really invested in my project/website/whatever. It means that I’ll put my nose to the grindstone, figure it out by myself, and be a hero! Au contraire, my friend. Watch any movie, read any comic book…the hero never goes it entirely alone. Sidekicks are not just fashion statements. If you truly care about the success of whatever you’re working on, you’ll ask for a helping hand.

It shows that you, my friend, are an interconnected member of the human race. And, coming full circle, you’re paying attention to the fact that you can’t do it all on your own. You’re paying attention to the gifts of others, to what they have to offer.

Having covered receiving, let’s move on to the giving. Today, an earthquake and tsunami devastated the homes and lives of many in Japan (and other countries are bracing for further tsunamis.) Our thoughts and prayers go with them, and I’d ask that you send help, too.

Of course, in moments like these, one feels the inadequacy of a small donation. The magnitude of global catastrophe is overwhelming. So today I’m just thinking about my friends at L’Arche. They’ve taught me that no small act of kindness is wasted.

Because of them, I’m willing to help. Because of them, I’ve been helped more times than I can count.

And the circle continues on, unbroken…



*Names have been changed.

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  1. ailanna March 11, 2011 at 7:21 PM - Reply

    Asking for help is exactly what I’m worst at, so thank you for providing all these reasons to connect and admit that I don’t know it all. I grew up with parents who begrudged going out of their way and who made even a ride to a friend’s house seem like a major favor. I never felt it was OK to ask for more than was given to me, and I guess that’s an attitude that has carried over into adulthood.

    Now I’m thinking about all the times when asking for help would have made a difference and realizing that this attitude has closed a lot of doors. Time to start opening them again!

    • Caroline McGraw March 11, 2011 at 8:06 PM - Reply

      Ailanna, thank you for sharing your story~ a valuable one to hear! I’m so glad the post resonated with you.
      Readers, check out Ailanna’s blog at:

  2. […] a digital strategy session with Ash via Skype (and wrote about the motivation behind that session here), so I can tell you ~ she’s one gifted, gracious, energizing person, not to mention a […]

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