What’s one thing you need help with, right now?

Near the top of my gratitude heap is deep appreciation for all of the people who have invested in me, in one way or another, by offering a mystic mix of honest feedback (delivered kindly), prudent encouragement, and pearls of wisdom. The list of names is quite long, hence the deep gratitude.

Among the pearls are these:

The gifts people give you are often things they’d like to receive. (my mother)

Anyone who says unkind things about another person to you will say unkind things about you to others. (also my mother)

It’s only hard if you want to do it right, and if it’s too hard then you’re doing it too right. (Bill)

Admitting when you’re wrong, or when you’ve made a mistake, is a sign of strength. (Joel)

Asking for help is an opening bid for shared confidence and trust. (Mary Jo)

Expecting someone to do something that’s beyond their capability or interest is unfair in both directions. (also Mary Jo)

The last two are fairly recent additions, and they come through work I’ve done with a woman I’ve respected and admired since the earliest days of my career, working in the male-dominated field of telecommunications. In a surprising twist, she and I reconnected five years ago and during the never-ending pandemic she has been both coach and confidante for me at Kindred Place.

It was she who guided me through the one 2021 lesson that I would take forward into my remaining time, if I could keep only one lesson from the year (yes, this was a post of its own, earlier this month): Expecting someone to do something that’s beyond their skill or interest is unfair both to the person with expectations and to the person from whom things are expected.

That’s the keeper on my list because the lesson was fully unlocked during the year — meaning I received the lesson, put it into practice, and spent time developing a way to manage myself going forward. Full circle; full unlock; life-changing lesson.

The next-to-last item on that list, though, might be my most important lesson from 2020 — a lesson I’m still working on it because it’s hard. It’s also a gift from this same wise woman, and one way I’ve been practicing this work is by doing it in small, digestible increments.

So, in the interest of practice practice practice, I thought it might be a good next-to-last day of 2021 activity for me, and perhaps for you, too:

Ask one real person for help you need, right now.

It could be as easy ask for a small bit of advice like texting a friend who’s a particularly good baker: “I’m looking for a good cookie recipe; can you help?”

Or maybe it’s something like: “A few months ago you mentioned a program that installs weatherstripping on old houses. Would you send me that contact info, please?”

Yes, really, that’s it. Keep it simple. A small ask for a small act is a way to get started, if asking for help isn’t something you’re generally comfortable doing.

Then, perhaps, having done it once you might commit to doing it again. Maybe you’ll even spend some time reflecting: How does asking for help change they dynamic between you and the person you’re asking? Does that person also ask for help, even if it’s for different things?

Important to note: This suggested activity is not in any way like posting a broad “Who can help? request on Facebook. No; this work, done well, is specific, intentional, and focused. Upside: You might find that approaching it this way, with a single request to a specific person for help you need RIGHT NOW, erases any feeling of risk.

Of course you might also decide that this particular work just isn’t for you. As my mother was fond of saying, “That’s why they make chocolate and vanilla, Jennifer, because not everyone enjoys the same thing.”

Hey, we’ve got one more day along these particular lines, tomorrow. If you downloaded the book and have been following along there, then you likely already taken a peek at tomorrow’s final activity. But you don’t know how I’m going to set that one up now, do you?

So, maybe I’ll see you tomorrow. Hope so.

P.S. – Every day, for one more day, I post the book: December Sanity Journal.