The Unexpected Secret to Becoming a Superstar
Toddler-leaders say, “I’ll do it myself!”
Rejecting help is an arrogant leader’s self-limiting blunder.
You prefer giving help, but receiving help is what makes superstars.
You may reach high on your own, but high performers always reach higher with help.
Ego limits potential when it prevents you from receiving help.
Bonnie St. John, Paralymic ski racer, on ego and being helpable:
How to let others help you:
I asked Bonnie, the first African-American ever to win Olympic medals in ski racing, (1984 Paralympics in Innsbruck, Austria), if she has learned to be helpable. She said,
“I catch myself not being helpable.”
Helpable and strength:
“… There are lots of talented people who don’t make it as far… The superstar is just the person who got more help.” Bonnie St. John.
5 ways to be helpable and competent:
- Delegate well.
- Be coachable.
- Develop others by receiving their help. Make room for the growth of others by letting them help you.
- Focus on showing others how great they are, rather than how great you are. Enjoy your sweet spot and celebrate the strengths of others.
- Explore suggestions. Fear of weakness makes you offended when others offer help. Strength is open; weakness closed.
“The word helpable makes you think, maybe I should be a little more humble.”
Bonnie in her own words on being competent and helpable:
Helpable is an ability:
“Being not helpable is a short-term strategy.”
Bonnie’s introduction of “helpable” into leadership language elevates and informs terms like collaboration and teamwork.
Helpable is a skill that reflects humility.
How might leaders get better at receiving help?
What dangers do you see in being helpable?
Special thanks to Dr. James L. Davis, President of World LEADERS Conference and Ben Lichtenwalner owner of Modern Servant Leader, for making this conversation possible.
Is this digital recorder working???
If a leader doesn’t have a need for help, then they aren’t really a leader at all.
Thanks Jody. Well said.
I like the term ‘being helpable’ which I have not heard before. To me it implies being open and curious to the ideas and perspectives of others, recognizing the valuable contribution they can make towards one’s success.
Research shows to be effective, learning should be self-directed and ‘being helpable’ supports this where an individual is open and curious, requesting help, help they have identified as wanted and/or needed. The individual is more receptive to the information provided by others and through reflection learning will occur that is effective because it is learning they have determined they want.
Thanks for highlighting this term. I will set intention around ‘being
helpable’ in all aspects of my life.
Thanks Kathy. The idea that help is most useful when it’s wanted/needed is so powerful. At the heart of being helpable is enough humility to acknowledge we need help…the second step is being willing to ask for it.
I hope you are ready to put your money where your mouth/pen is because I have something I’ve been wanting to help you with for about a week now. Email is on its way.
Thanks James. Your comment reminds me that it’s one thing to talk about something and another to practice it. 🙂
Quoting: “You prefer giving help, but receiving help is what makes superstars.” Anyone who sees the incapable of receiving help not only has a huge ego but is so naive!!! There is no way that anyone can knowledgeable regarding any topic, let alone being able to use it! Think about what that means: The individual would have to be the only person capable of developing new knowledge on that topic!!!! If anyone believes that to be true, I have a bridge I’d like to sell them…
Thanks jcbjr. My experience is that arrogance isn’t logical.
“I catch myself not being help able” Wow great post you have here. I catch myself being the same way a lot. I have been in a relationship for about 3 years and about a year into it I got injured in the military and needed 4 knee surgeries and a 5th coming in April this year. I would always tell Melissa that I would do the yard work or I would take the trash out, dishes, etc when I knew that I would be in extreme pain but I just wanted to be the “man of the house” when I should have taken the help. Well now we are more of a team and I have become more help able and everything is better than ever. I wish more people would read posts like these that mean something. I would post more like this if I was more educated in the topic, but I do look forward to reading more things like this. I am new to the site and am excited for the potential of knowledge all around me!
Thanks jwilson. I’m glad you shared your story. I find it powerful. It seems that learning to be helpable is, at least sometimes, a painful journey. You have my best for the future.
This is a humbling post. Perfect.
Thanks Donna. I find the concepts humbling, too.
I always like helping people, gives me a feeling of serving others when they most needed it! Having been on both sides of the fence can be truly humbling wanting help, admitting you need experienced help, with technical knowledge becomes humbling too. Be thankful there are people out there willing to assist. I can tell a successful marriage comes with help from both parties in a joint effort makes for fabulous projects and a successful marriage.
Thanks Tim. Gratitude for people who are willing to help seems to help with the ego problem.
The idea that collaboration means receiving as well as giving help is also important to me.
I really enjoyed your article and the term “being helpable”. This also implies knowing that it’s ok to make mistakes because they function as learning experiences. A lot of times fear inhibits innovation – how will we ever move forward and make progress if we let fear drive us? That is where your comments and examples of being helpable come in. Thanks for giving me something to think about!
I received a warning from my boss for wanting to help and point out some internal problems in the company, which nobody else dared to point out for years( I am relatively new there). So that much for wanting to help. But life goes on and I do enjoy reading your blogs, Dan. They are so inspirational!
I enjoyed this article for a couple reasons. As mentioned in other comments, being helpable when you need it is important, but I really appreciate the concept of being willing to accept help from those with the primary purpose of helping them learn / grow / succeed. A mentor of mine with a passion for teaching is excellent in this arena and shared that we should always be thinking about our succession plan — who will replace me when I move up, and will they be ready? Not only will we be making ourselves better, but we’ll be helping those around us get better and hopefully (if our egos will allow it), be even better than we are. Well done.