The Flower Power of Asking for Help

April 13, 2021

Spring is in the air and so is asking for help (and the spring meetings are next week!).

And that all has me thinking about the counter-cultural power of asking for help. 

My understanding of asking for help is a kind of hippy notion.

I say that because my mother launched the first council in 1960 and I was born that decade – you could say both me and the councils are flower children.

The heart of my hippy notion comes down to this: is asking for help a “getting” activity or a “giving” activity? 

In other words, when you ask a peer leader for help are you trying to get something from them or, counter intuitively, are you being giving to them?

My answer is both, but with emphasis on the latter — assuming your question is honest, open, and vulnerable. 

How are you being giving by asking for advice? 

That’s ridiculous, right? Is that some psychedelic fantasy?

No. It’s our humanity.

You give the people you ask many things: The joy of being giving back to you (we humans do actually love being giving, especially when asked); the trust, respect, and confidence that comes from being asked for expertise and insights (and we are all insecure so doses of confidence are HIGHLY welcome); the learning that comes from them giving expertise and insights to you (no better way to learn than to teach), and, the discovery, in some cases, that they have the same question (and didn’t know it – and that’s a big gift).

I taught this recently to one of my longtime friends — we’ll call her Sally —who decided to put together a council of Wall Street masters of the universe. I told Sally that she needed to explain to those big bank CEOs the flower power of asking for help. 

And that they needed to come in to that council not peacocking — but  with the intent to be open, honest and, I know this sounds crazy when talking about those big swinging drips, even vulnerable. 

In the preliminary conversations, they gave Sally a hard time. 

They snarled, “this better be worth my time” and “you know the ROI on my time is veryhigh.“

I told her to let be those idiotic statements. 

Instead, I coached Sally on how to create the trust environment from the get go.

She opened the first meeting with the important statement that they need to *give* trust to get trust; and, Amazon style, they need to emotionally invest before the ROI becomes clear; and, they need to share how, despite their success, their troubles are not so far away; and that every one of them has a broken wing (or two); and, finally, that there’s nothing they need to do that can’t be done better together

You are teaching them to not carry the world alone upon their shoulders, I continued. Instead, you are helping them discover the kind of love and support that money cannot buy.  

That is an amazing gift. You should know it and they will know it.

She called me with excitement after the first meeting. They had come out of the shadows and held each other’s hands. One had even cried. Imagine that —a staid, pin striped, macho money baron CEO crying. 

I share this story in the week before our spring meetings to reinforce the message you’ve already heard many times: be open and vulnerable, and respect your accomplished peers by giving them the gift of asking for their help.
Now that my sermon is done, please turn to page 23 in your hippy hymnal and sing along with me to another song:


I need somebody
(Help!) not just anybody
(Help!) you know I need a council member
After this dark winter.


I never needed anybody’s help in any way
But now these days are gone, I’m not so self assured (but now these days are gone)
(And now I find) Now I find I’ve changed my mind and opened up the doors

Help me if you can, I’m feeling down
And I do appreciate you being ’round
Help me get my team back on the ground
Won’t you please, please help me?


For those of you in the Councils – have a great spring council meeting next week!



P.S. How many songs from a certain 60s group of hippies do I directly or indirectly refer to above?  

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About the Author

Phyl Terry

Phyl Terry, Founder and CEO of Collaborative Gain, Inc., launched the company’s flagship leadership program – The Councils – in 2002 with a fellow group of Internet pioneers from Amazon, Google, and others. Thousands of leaders from the Internet world have come together in the last 15 years to learn the art of asking for help and to support each other to build better, more customer-centric products, services, and companies.

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