in life

Without Help There is No Hope

One of the hardest things for me to do is to admit that I can’t do something. “I can’t” is an ugly phrase that can forever hold you back. But sometimes, admitting you can’t do something is the only way to ensure you can.

It’s true that the keys to your own success are in your hands – you are in the drivers seat and you ultimately have the final say in any decision that you make. If you feel like you can’t control anything else, you can always control the choices you make.

But sometimes, your car will stall, you’ll get lost along the way without a map to point you in the right direction…

As silly as it sounds, it took me a while to realize that I couldn’t do it all – that I wasn’t invincible.

When it clicked

For me it was about a year ago when I moved to Chicago. When I left everything in Nashville and moved 500 miles away with no job, $2,000 to my name, and bills that didn’t stop coming. I had to turn to my in-laws for help. Of course they were gracious and welcomed me into their home with open arms while I worked on getting settled into my life in Chicago, but I couldn’t help but feel defeated.

I kept telling myself “If only I had planned better”. “If only I had saved more money”. I had somehow convinced myself that I didn’t deserve help, that I could have planned things out differently, sucked it up, and gone without the help.

And maybe it could have – but accepting that reached out hand, relying (temporarily) on the faith and support from another helped me (in more than words can express) to become the man I am today. I’m forever grateful for all of those people who have been there telling me “I can” when I’ve told myself “I can’t”.

We constantly tell ourselves that we don’t deserve help – but we often forget that there are people in our lives who love us, care about us, and believe in us that will gladly help when we’re in need (or even when we’re not). Admitting you can’t do something and being willing to accept the help of others is how we learn, it’s how we grow, it’s that selfless compassion that defines us as human beings.

All of these thoughts were sparked by a recent blog post written by Kristin Tennant titled “Viewing ‘Help’ as a Four Letter Word“. Kristin has this to say about the idea of “helping”:

…What is it about asking for help? Or maybe asking for help isn’t necessarily my problem, as much as allowing myself to think I deserve help. Notice that in my tweet, I didn’t say “I didn’t want to burden anyone.” I said I “thought I should suck it up.” I set these mysterious standards for myself—who knows where they come from—and then hold myself to them, no matter what reality I’m facing in my life, or what sensation is welling up inside me….”

The thing about pride

Pride is something that will get you far, and get in your way, if you let it. Pride and confidence breed success, but too much pride leads to arrogance, narrow-mindedness, and an unwillingness to learn. It can completely cloud your judgement. It’s a delicate balance, to be sure.

I’ve learned now, especially since starting my own business, that you MUST be honest with both yourself and others in what you can and cannot do. And you MUST welcome learning with open arms. When you can’t do something, own it, be OK with it. Instead of accepting defeat, work to build a network of people who CAN do what you CANNOT. Just as you can learn from them, they can undoubtedly learn from you.

The smartest people out there are those who realize that there are others smarter than them.

If you think you’re at the top, if you’re telling yourself that you’ve peaked and you’ve made it. The world is going to be an extremely lonely and isolating place. If you’re shutting yourself off to the idea of learning, you’re not getting the most out of living.

Today, I implore you to go learn something new. Even better, go lend a hand and a bit of your knowledge to someone who can learn from YOU. Just remember, if it wasn’t for the help and support of others, you probably wouldn’t be where you are today…

(Photo Credit)

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  1. Often times, I like to pretend I'm superwoman and I can do anything and everything and I don't need help from anyone. And often times, I get a nice little reminder that in fact I can't do everything, nor should I attempt to be superwoman. You are right, Matt. We don't get anywhere without the help of others. There is a reason people are put in our lives, even if they are our family members and *have* to put up with us. I know for sure I wouldn't be where I am today without the love, support, and help from friends and family so thanks for that little reminder today. Have a great week! :o)

  2. Hey Matt,

    Absolutely right. It's nice to come from a place where you believe you're independent and have enough trust in yourself to handle just about anything – but when things start to go wrong, it's in your best interest to swallow your pride and just ask for help.

    Arrogance blinds us to the possibilities others have for making us better, in a way – and the value that we can give to others if we just share it. While, yes, being too attached to others and others' opinions can hold us back – not engaging at all has far worse consequences.

  3. Matt,

    This reminds of me a quote that I read somewhere about the fact the best leaders surround themselves with people who are smarter than they are. The worst ones are driven by ego and pride so they hire people less capable. As a personal example from my own life, I'm launching our companies new travel blog and I got tasked with hiring a writing staff, and so I reached out to my personal network. One of the major things I looked for was people who had been more successful with blogging than I had. One of my writers is Colin Wright. In a one our meeting with him at our office, it became very apparent to me that it was extremely beneficial to hire somebody with more knowledge than me.

    While we want to hire those who know more, we also don't want to discount those who might know more than we think. The key really is surrounding yourself with great people and people who not only can help you, but you can help in return. With a mutual exchange of value, relationships blossom.

  4. This is a good one Matt, I'm learning the same thing but by means of getting around now with a broken foot (instead of being an entreprenuer). It's hard to give up independence and rely on others. I find it odd that society teaches us that we have to be independent, but in order to get anywhere, we have to rely a little on others. It is true that one person cannot have 100% of all talents and gifts. I like your closing statement as well, once we give up learning, we give up living.

  5. This post is so relevant to my life right now. I've always tried to be an independent”superwoman.” I am eager to prove that there's no project or task I can't handle. I've always believed if I put my mind to it, I can accomplish anything. And I'm quickly realizing, that it is okay to ask for help from friends and family every once in awhile. The more I think about it, the more I realize it's not a handout, but a gesture of support. It's that support, when you're struggling that raises us up. As you implied, it's okay to ask for help, since we are all HUMAN. We all make mistakes and need help once in awhile, and sometimes it just takes enough PRIDE to ask for that much-needed handout. I've found that 95% of the time that I needed that additional help, a friend or family member came through for me. In fact, I'm confident I wouldn't be where I am today without the support of my friends and family.

  6. I completely agree with you Elizabeth.There IS a reason that certain people come into our lives. I'm guilty of 'superman' syndrome' as well – thinking I can do it all – but living your life like that will forever hold you back from some pretty amazing opportunities to learn and try new things. Sometimes admitting that you can't is really the first step toward realizing that you can.

    Thanks for the comment!

  7. Very well said Brett. It's a delicate balance – leaning too heavily on others won't get you anywhere – but being too proud to accept any help, as you said, can be that much worse. Know what you know, but don't be afraid to admit when you don't know…

  8. Can't go wrong bringing someone on-board like Colin. He's a good man, extremely talented, and a successful entrepreneur. His model for success is something I'm looking forward to chatting with him about once I get around to sitting down with him this summer.

    To your point – yes – bringing in people who are more knowledgeable in their respective areas isn't just brilliant, it's a necessity. That's how you build a successful business – by bringing in people with complementary skill sets. What I find is that genuine collaboration is hard to find amongst our 'demographic'. Everyone wants a bigger piece of the pie, everyone wants to be he lead singer of the band – and that spells disaster in the business world, when everyone's place isn't understood.

    It takes ALL the pieces to complete a puzzle – if you've got 100 round pegs, they'll still never fit into a square hole…

  9. I truly believe that, Bryon. If you've given up on learning anything new…doesn't it seem like life would be a pretty boring? Wandering around with a closed-mind and folded arms saying no to opportunities that come your way? I work on learning something new every day – even if I should be doing something else, even if there may not be a direct return on my time invested – it's those things that challenge us, that force us to step outside of our current realm of knowledge, that help us grow and lead to an overall more fulfilling life.


  10. Without a hand to reach out and help out from time to time, life would be a pretty lonely and isolating place. It's that compassion and support that truly builds relationships, personally and professionally.

    You CAN accomplish anything you put your mind to – but sometimes, part of that process is going to be stepping down off your 'pride' soapbox and admitting that you need a little help.

    You're doing great things – about to embark on the next step in your journey moving to a new place with a new job. It's going to be an exciting ride – I can't wait to be part of it, reminiscing about old school Nick along the way (hint: The Shrine of the Silver Monkey is THREE f***ing pieces!!!)

  11. You are so talented. I can't believe you can smoothly transition from talking about pride and needing help along to the way to a Legends of the Hidden Temple comment. Touche!

    And, keep on cranking out great blog posts. You're definitely one of my top three favorite bloggers right now.

  12. Talented – or just that crazy, right? I'd probably lean more toward the crazy…

    But seriously, thank you for the kind words. Means a lot. Hope you're having a great week!

  13. I'm very hard-headed, resilient, and focused.

    I've always been good at getting things done and I HATE relying on others. However, I know that it's imperative I learn to rely and even *gasp* trust others from time to time.

    I love doing things my way. In my view, it's the best way and the only way I will be happy.

    When I look back on my short life(23 years), I can count on one hand the times I've truly asked for help – it was those times that I grew the most and learned more than I ever have about my character, my flaws and my abilities.

  14. We are sometimes embarrassed by our need for help. There have been times when I felt lonely, but for some reason I refrained from contacting others. The idea of saying “Hey, I'm lonely, be my friend” just seemed wrong somehow. I've gotten much better at this, but I think I still need…well…help. =)