working out loud

Just Pick Up the Phone

helpTonight during dinner I got a call from a coworker. This never happens so I knew it must be an emergency. When I answered I was greeted by a very apologetic, very worried person who had basically pushed a button they shouldn’t have pushed. We’ve all done it, right? Pushed that one button that somehow erases hours (or God forbid, days) of work. Lucky for this person I’ve had enough “oh shit” moments of my own to push me to make copies of code, saving revisions as I go, just for instances like this. Within a few minutes I was able to restore what was lost. Just like that.

Based on the tone in this person’s voice, and the time of night, I’m willing to bet they had sat at their desk for a good amount of time trying to understand what had happened, clicking around hoping the file was somehow saved in a mysterious location they hadn’t checked yet, and just generally freaking out. Eventually though, they were able to say those often illusive three words: I. Need. Help. Not only that, they picked up the phone and made that call. And all was well.

I’ve spent a lifetime trying to do everything myself. I pride myself on solving my own problems (and even thinking I can solve everyone else’s too), and while I believe it’s an important skill—problem solving in general, that is—so is asking for help. These last few years I’ve actively practiced calling others for help, and at first, I would have rather done just about anything besides pick up that phone. Now, it’s a little easier. And you know what? Every problem I’ve called about didn’t necessarily magically disappear, but it got better. There have been times too, where I thought for sure what I was dealing with was a 12,000 ft. mountain, when after talking to someone else I trust for a few minutes, it turned out to be just a pebble.

Ask for help. Pick up that phone and I bet you’ll be surprised.