We live in societal times that promote the notion that ‘paddling your own canoe’ is a good idea. ‘If it’s meant to be, it’s up to me’, we positively affirm to ourselves. Resilient people, however, understand the power of asking for help. It is an act of courage, not weakness, to lean on your support network when you need to.
Stubbornness is limiting
I spent the first two years in business determined to do it all myself, figure it all out myself. I didn’t ask for help, even when I really needed it. There were two stubborn reasons behind that choice- I had something to prove, and I didn’t want to infringe on people’s valuable time.
When I realised, as per the John Donne quote that ‘no man is an island’, and I began to ask for help, advice, support, input, I became a better businesswoman.
Why? A couple of reasons.
Cells that fire together, wire together
When I do it all myself, I am limited to the resources of my own brain, which, while a wonderful brain, doesn’t, and can’t know everything, or imagine everything, or problem- solve everything. Going it alone means putting a parameter around your knowledge, and resources and ideas. Inviting the input of other brains removes that parameter, and creates a much bigger playing field of ideas and resources and knowledge.
When our ancestors, homo sapiens, collaborated and shared knowledge and ideas, they quickly ascended to the top of the animal kingdom. Connecting and collaborating is hard wired into our biology, and has ensured our survival thus far. Why throw everyone out of the canoe at this point?
Emotionally resilient people are supported
Mentally and emotionally it gets exhausting going it alone all the time. As John Capaccio, the renowned social neuroscientist said ‘loneliness isn’t about being alone. It’s about not feeling connected’. We now know that loneliness is as dangerous a threat to our mortality as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Belonging and connection are fundamental human needs, as Maslow referenced in his hierarchy of needs.
Feeling supported, knowing that we have champions in our corner, that we have shoulders available to cry on when things go awry, that we don’t need to figure it all out ourselves all the time, is vital for our emotional wellbeing. And healthy emotional hygiene is foundational for resilience.
Covid silver lining
Covid has shown us that truly, none of us really like being in the canoe on our own. We crave connection to one another, the kind of connection that doesn’t require internet.
Social distancing is physically keeping us from one another, and it is taking its toll. It’s like an unwelcome, unplanned social experiment to prove to us that as a species, humans are social creatures who need social interaction to survive and thrive. We need to belong to families, and friendships, and communities. We function best when we function together.
So don’t get into the canoe on your own. You don’t need to. Sometimes the most resilient thing you can do is reach out and ask for support.