A young boy was walking with his father along a country road. When they came across a very large tree branch the boy asked, “Do you think I could move that branch?” His father answered, “If you use all your strength, I’m sure you can.” So the boy tried mightily to lift, pull and push the branch but he couldn’t move it. Discouraged he said, “Dad, you were wrong. I can’t do it.” His dad said, “Try again.” This time, as the boy struggled with the branch his father joined him and together they pushed the branch aside. “Son,” the father said, “the first time you didn’t use all your strength. You didn’t ask me to help.”
The story is derived from one told by David Wolpe in Teaching Your Children About God (Harper Perennial 1995)
This is an important lesson. There are many things we can’t do alone, but that doesn’t mean we can’t get them done. Resources that can be mobilized to help us achieve our goals including family, friends and faith surround us all. I am continually amazed at the things I can accomplish when I ask for the help. Sometimes we fail to ask for help because of pride or stubbornness. Sometimes we think it’s a sign of weakness to admit we need a hand. And sometimes we don’t even think about asking for help. Whatever the reason, it’s a waste.
It’s important that we learn to use all our strength and that we teach our children to do the same. This includes inner resources such as discipline, courage, faith, and even love. But it also includes outer resources. Just as we should be willing to help others we should be willing to ask the help of others. It’s one of the great things about being human. Just think about it, if we were all secure enough to lean on others to compensate for our weaknesses and to offer service to those around us using our strengths we could accomplish amazing things. If only we were secure enough to admit we need help.
Think about your areas of strength and offer to assist in those areas this week. On the other side, think about an area where you could use some help and ask. Ask a friend, a co-worker, or a family member. You will be amazed and what happens when you take the time to ask. This is something that I have focused on for my entire educational career, encouraging my staff, our students and their parents to identify areas of strength and to use them for the good of the school. At the same time, I strive to make it safe and to model asking for support in areas that are not my strength. This has created a culture of mutual support and an educational environment that encourages us to be honest and makes it okay not to be perfect.