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Turtle Man Asks for Help

Learning how and when to reach out


I Need Help

It's intimidating to learn how to ski.

The chairlift sits as the first challenge, waiting to reveal our incompetence before the skiing even begins. With the gear and the conditions, a first day on the slopes can be a lot to process, not even mentioning the skiing technique itself!

That's why ski lessons are so important. Learning from the expert when the realization hits: I need help. This feeling can even come after years of skiing.

A couple of weeks back I wrote about Hassle and Nonsense. We all deal with the hassles reality hands us, and we handle it with varying degrees of elegance.

But sometimes we have no choice but to look out to the world, or up to a ski instructor, and ask for help.

I’ve been thinking about this more as I receive rejections from MBA applications and look for the next opportunity. I found a one-page anecdote in A Field Guide to Getting Lost about Turtle Man, a blind chocolate seller going business-to-business peddling his sweets. It's an inspiring story about asking for help and vulnerability in the face of uncertainty.


Turtle Man

“And one day I was out on the street right out here and I heard this voice go help...help...and it was the [blind] Turtle Man... standing there on the corner. … His way of crossing the street was to stand on the curb and say help, and just say help until someone came along and helped him across the street.

"... Isn't that really amazing? What an amazing life. You walk along and you reach a barrier and you stop and you just call out help."

"You don't know who you're talking to, you don't know who's around if anyone, and you wait, and then somebody turns up and they help you across that barrier, and then you walk on knowing that pretty soon you're going to meet another barrier and you're going to have to stop again and cry out help, help, help, not knowing if anyone's there, not knowing who it will be that will turn up to help you.”

Resilience doesn't have to be a lonely journey. We can call out for help, even when it feels like calling out into an abyss. Help will come. Help always comes. (Right?)