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Dysfunction 21: Not asking for help

Asking for help is something I struggle with. Always have.

After all I’m an independant, get stuff done kind of guy, and to ask for help must be a sign of weakness.

And if I show signs of weakness then people will laugh and talk about me behind my back. They will lose respect for me and I may end up losing my job.

If I lose my job, then I can’t provide for my family and my dignity and pride would be badly damaged.

I may lose the house, the car and god help me if the chihuahua has to go too…

Yes. I have a chihuahua.

Anyway – I know this is over-reacting, but it’s roughly the breakdown of what flashes through my little brain when I’m struggling to cope with the various demands placed on me.

But hang on a minute, I like other people asking me for help.

It makes me feel needed and more than anything else it feels good to give others a helping hand. So why do I find it hard the other way round?

I was sharing this with a former colleague and friend and he was quite firm about the importance of asking for help, especially at work in order to reduce delta poop.

What’s delta poop? Steve Alexander can tell you himself, as he helped me out by writing the second half of this post.  Cheers Steve.


∆poop del·ta  poop

/ˈdeltə po͞op/


The gap between where you are, and where you get hit by the brown stuff down-stream of the fan.

Things start to smell bad when ∆poop gets too small. Those with good noses and the courage to ask for help can often avoid contact with project-related fecal matter.

Here’s a graph from a project I worked on showing time starting left to right

delta poop.001

Somewhere between baseline expectations and the average project, things smell rosy – or near enough.

You know how someone farts in a meeting room, or a lift, and everyone is too polite to say anything? The useful question isn’t “who farted? ” but “will someone please open a window?

One gets you fresh air, and allows you to get on with the meeting. The other is about pointing the smelly `finger of blame, and saying things like “he who said the rhyme did the crime ”. But we’re still all breathing bum-gas.

When you’re down-stream from the shit-fan, most people will stay well clear… only the most committed and determined help-givers will come near.

So what to do? How willing are you to pipe up and declare “hmm… this project has started to go off. Will you help me with this? ”

And when there is a bad smell, do we really want to play the “who farted? ” blame-game? Or realize that everyone farts occasionally, and the best thing to do is say “I smell a ripe one, let’s open a window. ”


Relevant quote from Eric Berne, M.D., “ Please stop making waves. We’re up to our neck in shit-creek. ”

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