Learning to ask for help

Years ago, I was having a fight with a girlfriend, and when things had settled a bit, we had a level-headed conversation about what I needed to do.

One of the notes I wrote myself was to the effect of "Learning to ask for help, and getting it". Meaning, when I had problems, I expect(ed) to be able to deal with them myself, but that's not how being alive works. No one really get anywhere themselves.

A couple years ago, my boss sent me a curt email saying that I needed to start asking people for help earlier on in the troubleshooting process, because it can save time. There's a balance between being helpless and always asking others to do your work for you, and never asking for any help. This is, basically, knowing the right time to ask for help even though you could solve your problems on your own.

I was taking some pride in never asking for TA help on solo days, because there was never any problem that took longer than a couple minutes, but there were always more problems.

I write about the future of schooling, and how teachers and TAs are education multipliers: they help lead students to good avenues of attack, and know when to step back and let them struggle a bit.

Last night, I asked Jonathan for advice on an issue with the assets pipeline, and over the course of three quick interactions I was able to generate the behavior I wanted. (Why does every problem fix, including home DIY work, seem to require three tries? Is there some truth to fairy tales?)

There is no intrinsic virtue to being able to do everything on your own, because the guy who doesn't have that hangup will far surpass you, even though you might feel more self-reliant.