All you need to do is- ASK!
Updated: May 25, 2020
Raedita, our 4 year old participant at Sahaj decided to build her house with wood blocks. She soon realized that it was difficult to lift the stack of three blocks independently. She immediately asked her friend, Cosimo for help. Cosimo, 5 years old, accepted the request and came forward to help. Through a coordinated effort, both the children lifted the stack of three blocks and took it to the spot where Raedita had decided to make a house.
Children love to scavenge for the materials they need. After a few days, Raedita spotted a few bricks that were intentionally placed in the garden for children to spot. She demanded she needs more bricks to make a house.
When 40 bricks were made available the next day, she had a realisation that the bricks were too heavy to lift and she again requested Cosimo to help. The skill to ask for help is a quality that many adults unfortunately lack in today's world, and it leads to a lack of productivity which ultimately affects the kind of governance the citizens receive and the efficiency with which citizens contribute towards the growth of the country.
Many leaders lament that the environment in their workplaces is not cooperative enough and it results in lesser productivity of the organization.
In the book, Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg(Author & COO of Facebook) shares a thought-provoking anecdote. Late for a sales meeting, she was only able to find a parking spot far from the front door of Google's headquarters, where she worked before her current job of COO at Facebook, and waddled her way inside. The next day, Sandberg marched in to see her boss, Sergey Brin, and demanded that the company create closer pregnancy parking for expectant mothers. Brin immediately said yes and wondered why such an idea had never occurred to him previously.
Sandberg asked herself the same question:
"As one of Google's most senior women, didn't I have a special responsibility to think of this? … The other pregnant women might have suffered in silence, not wanting to ask for special treatment. Or maybe they lacked the confidence or seniority to demand that the problem be fixed. Having one pregnant woman at the top – even one who looked like a whale – made the difference."
All that someone had to do was, ASK. However, most of the adults are never raised to confidently turn to others, a junior staff member might never have mustered the courage to ask for help for either the fear of being judged or because of a lack of conviction. If we wish to evolve and achieve our dreams, we need to be smart to know when we need support and be courageous to ask for help.
We are conditioned to accept that self-reliance is the highest form of virtue. However, as noted by the famous author, Wayne Baker, self-reliance while is an admirable trait, it’s also self-limiting. In today’s organizations, you can’t be successful if you don’t ask for what you need.
In school and at home, I was taught the great virtues of helping others. However, it took me 33 years to learn how to ask for help. Research shows us that 90 percent of the people are always willing to help.
At Sahaj, we model the skill of “asking for help” in a non-didactic conversation. For instance, Sahaj's co-founder, Neha or I would often request help, “We are making a lemonade. Can someone help me by plucking the lemons from the lemon tree?” One or all of the children is always ready to help.
Hence, when Raedita asks for help from Cosimo, we cherish this as a special moment at Sahaj. At this moment, we are confident that we are visualising the toddlers of today to be the courageous adults of tomorrow who would know when to reach out while continuing to help others cheerfully.
About the Author
Ishani Shah-Verdia is a mother, facilitator, play activist, parent cafe facilitator, speaker, co-founder at Sahaj Natural Learning Centre and a life-long learner who learns from children while supporting children in their life journey.