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Sunday, May 29, 2011

Simple Rules and Tools - Ask for Help

Asking for Help even when you (think you) don't need it.

I just cleaned out one of the eves-troughs on our house. It seems hardly worth a blog post to announce that. Nor was it particularly remarkable in any way:
  • it wasn't higher than the reach of our standard ladder
  • it was above the deck at the back of the house so the footing for the ladder was solid
  • the blockage was ordinary – just some accumulated leaves
  • and the spot requiring attention was self evident because that's where the water was overflowing the lip of the trough on to my feet on the deck
On the other hand, yes, it was pouring rain at the time. (After all a hole in the roof only leaks when it is raining.)

So why did I go out in the rain, in a rain slicker and boots, scramble up a wet ladder with the slicker's hood blocking my vision, reach over backwards to grope blindly in the eves-trough, in very cold water, to find the blockage of soggy leaves, to deal with this problem?

Well; the point of the eves-trough is to direct water away from the basement wall so it doesn't end up in the cellar, and that clearly wasn't working very well. And the waterfall from the trough onto the deck made this disconcerting “water-is-running-into-the-house-and-all-is-lost” sound.

But, of course, the underlying reason is that I hadn't cleared the leaves away during the lovely warm sunny weather this past weekend. In fact I hadn't even checked to see if there might be leaves in the trough, even though I have to do that for my Mum almost every time I visit her at her house.

Aren't humans fascinating? We have the capability and resources to plan in advance the most outrageously complicated stuff, but we still wait until its raining to fix the roof – or eves-trough.

We see this effect when it comes to Asking for Help. It's startling clear when there's a problem and a solution is needed that asking someone else for thoughts or advice is a good idea. In our Simple Rules and Tools for Great Teams Immersion session that becomes obvious, particularly when we tell folks at the start of the session that the tool “Ask for Help” is the single most important and valuable one to learn.

But it's trickier to appreciate that Asking for Help is even more valuable when it is not raining problems. Because the steps in the tool aren't simply ones to get answers, but are also ways to open oneself to others – their knowledge, insights, experience, and contributions. And that helps us to put our own knowledge into perspective, take ourselves a little less seriously perhaps, and forge a stronger more meaningful connection with that other person.

And you don't have to wait until it's raining to do that.

Find out more about the Simple Rules and Tools for Great Teams at and get a free copy of all the rules and tools known as The Core Protocols at


Anonymous said...

That's what I've found: surprisingly, that Asking someone for Help helped build a closer connection with that person. I don't tend to ask for help because I don't want to bother people, but I suspect now that I'm wrong in that assumption ...

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