Know when to ask for help

We, at Magnus, recently ventured into new technological waters and various challenges surprised us. This is not about the specifics of that situation, but rather, a more global commentary on the need to be open to asking for help. In this situation, we, or rather our most excellent research assistant – tech person, got bogged down in some peculiar aspects of a video production. She is a person who prefers to persevere through such new activities and do it herself – or with the help of YouTube, and other resources. I, on the other hand, learned long ago that there are times when I do not know it all, or more specifically, when I’m venturing into uncharted territory, I know that asking for help or guidance, early, can save lots of floundering. I understand and appreciate determination, but the world is complicated. If I don’t know how to do something, but I know someone who might, I ask. If they can put me on the right path, or tell me I’m on the wrong one, then great. I have found that people do not mind sharing a little expertise. I, for one, am flattered when asked for advice about buying a new camera, or critiquing a photograph. I know about those things and am happy to share, because others shared their expertise with me. It is great to figure things out for oneself, but it is often more effective and efficient to seek that initial direction rather than risk going down the wrong path or missing a deadline. And, waiting to ask for help may put unreasonable pressure on the person one is asking because they have their own lives and deadlines. Lynyrd Skynyrd has a song entitled “I Know a Little” which has as its chorus the following lines:

Say, I know a little
I know a little about it
I know a little
I know a little ’bout it
I know a little ’bout love
And baby I can guess the rest

Guessing the rest about love is different than guessing about many other things. But, when in doubt, even slightly, ask.

Any post that includes lyrics from a Lynyrd Skynyrd song is an excellent post, in my opinion!  This being said, as David mentioned in a recent post, there are times to “do it yourself” and there are times to obtain expert advice and/or turn over a task entirely to someone who possesses greater expertise than oneself.  David and I often try to complete household chores on our own.  Sometimes, we are successful and other times, we know when to stop before making things worse or delaying the completion of a task due to our inexperience and inefficiency.  On these occasions, we call someone who knows what to do.  Rarely do we waste valuable time and resources muddling along, doing the best we can, when our best efforts would be considered an expert’s worst.  I don’t know if personality differences distinguish among people who stubbornly keep trying to do things on their own, unwillingly to admit defeat, from other people, who more quickly know to “throw in the towel” and ask for help.  It could be a personality difference, as well as a life experience/maturity issue that allows someone to be comfortable admitting things are getting out of hand, deadlines are not being met, and it’s time to call in the cavalry.  Whatever it is, it is a good learning experience for all of us to know what we know and, just as important, to know what we don’t know, as we move through life.  Now, “what song is it you want to hear?”


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