Last week I got an email from one of my heroes. Someone who I’ve admired my whole life, and who a lot of other people admire too. In this email, my hero asked for my help.
The next day, my hero and I got on the phone. He told me about a significant problem he was facing and how he thought I could be helpful. It was at the end of our conversation that he said something that stopped me in my tracks.
“However big a pain this thing is,” he told me, “it’s given me an excuse to reach out to you and some other people I was excited to reach out to. In that way, this is already a good thing.”
I was startled by what he said. He was expressing gratitude for a challenge because it gave him an excuse to ask other people for help.
I can honestly say that during the many challenges I’ve faced in life, this thought had never occurred to me. I’m someone, I now realize, who is loath to ask for help. When I face an obstacle I turn inward — wanting to figure it out, study it, withdrawing emotionally to process. Asking for help feels like admitting defeat, imposing my problems on someone else, showing weakness. It’s contrary to my instincts.
My hero’s statement made me see asking for help in a new light. Asking for help doesn’t decrease your self-reliance, it increases your interdependence, which is far more indicative of a happy life and successful outcomes. We all need a strong inner core, but we’re greatly amplified by our relationships with others. Asking for help, and in turn offering it, are the small reciprocal loops that tie our binds to each other.
Our exchange made me resolve to change my relationship to help. To not just turn to myself when I face obstacles, but to turn towards others too. At the bottom of this post is a concrete example: a job listing for the Bento Society — an ask for help that I’ve been putting off for too long.
There’s a simple framework we can follow when asking for help:
Share context for why we need help
Give a brief sense of steps taken to date
Present an explicit way someone can help
Once you make that ask for help, your job is to listen generously. Show gratitude for any help you receive, accept it without judgement, and examine it for wisdom as you consider different opinions and directions. Like all things, the point of asking for help isn’t the answer or the destination, it’s the conversation and larger journey that brings value.
What are your instincts like in regards to help? When you face a challenge do you get help from others or do you turn towards yourself? The next time you’re in a tough spot, try seeing it as an opportunity to ask for help.
Help Needed: Bento Society Community Operations
The place where I’ve been struggling to ask for help is the Bento Society.
The Bento Society is a global community of a couple thousand subscribers and a couple hundred paying members who use a framework called the Bento Method to become more aware of their values, make better decisions, and do a better job of thinking long-term and about the needs of others.
This community is now a year and a half old. Over those 18 months, we’ve hosted multiple events every week, learned tools and frameworks, used multiple community software spaces (first Discourse, then Slack, now Circle), and have created a lot of meaningful connections, experiences, and sub-groups together.
At this eighteen month point, however, there’s a challenge: me. Up until now the Bento Society has almost entirely been a one-person show. There are community members who step up (to whom I am extremely grateful) and who have made certain rituals and relationships very strong, but 95% of what happens are things personally done by me. From dealing with billing questions to sparking conversation to trying to coordinate meeting times across dozens of people around the world. Worse: I’m only halfway decent at a tiny number of these things. Most parts I’m a D+ at best.
My limitations are limiting the experience of this community. This is why I’m looking for help.
I’m looking for someone who can lead development and logistics of the Bento Society community. Things like:
Engaging with members
Upholding shared rituals
Billing and subscription questions
As you do these things, you’ll be working closely with me. Together, we’ll design experiences and a space that will be welcoming, engaging, and provide room for people to grow and connect with each other in meaningful ways.
This is not a fulltime job — probably closer to 20-30 hours a month — and a lot of it could be happening outside typical working hours. I have budget to pay someone a flat monthly rate for a six month engagement. We’ll see where things are from there.
Of all the communities and projects in the world to devote your time to, why this one? Because the Bento Society is actively modeling, practicing, and teaching a new post-capitalist framework for life, leadership, organizations, and cooperation, and this is still the beginning of this journey. You’ll be an integral part of shaping how these ideas are put into the world, how they’ll manifest in the wider universe, and making your own personal discoveries in the process. It’s a special opportunity, and a potentially life changing one, for the right person.
Who is the right person? I’m looking for someone with experience guiding and being part of digital communities who is comfortable and proficient at the different tools we’ll be using, and who connects to the mission and spirit of the Bento Society.
Interested? Send some information about yourself to firstname.lastname@example.org
Peace and love my friends,
The Bento Society
PS: There are open slots in two Season One Bento Groups. If you’re interested in joining, sign up here today.