A few weeks ago, I came across a piece by Ramit Sethi, bestselling author of I Will Teach You to Be Rich. The title, The Shame in Reaching Out for Help, immediately caught my attention. As someone who tightly clings to her independence like a life raft, asking for help is a daily struggle. In fact, I think a lot of us who travel for work share this struggle. The “road warrior” term itself conjures images of individuality and grit, and so many of us play that role to a T. We travel alone. We eat in restaurants and drink in bars alone. We workout in hotel gyms alone. We navigate the stress of business travel alone.
In this particular piece, Ramit shares the story about prepping for his SATs in high school. Although he purchased nearly a dozen SAT prep books, Ramit still struggled to grasp the math portion. Finally, he convinced his parents to enroll him in an $800 Kaplan SAT prep class. With the help of his tutors, he achieved the score he needed to get into Stanford. Ramit says:
“Until now, I never told anybody I took that Kaplan class. It was just something I didn't want to talk about. I wanted success to seem effortless.”
That last point really gets to the root of why we avoid asking for help. Rightly, Ramit calls this belief in “effortless success” puritanical. For the Puritans, hard work was more than just a physical activity - it was the output of strong spiritual values. To them, those with pure and good hearts would naturally work hard and achieve success while those who lacked that quality were lazy and doomed to fail.
While our own beliefs have slightly evolved since then, they haven’t departed too far from the Puritan or Protestant Work Ethic. Hard work may be the road toward success, but we firmly believe that road is linear and leads straight back to us - our individual strength, our determination, our ingenuity, and our commitment. In our minds, asking for help is a detour we don’t want to explore because we fear it exposes us as weak, vulnerable, and subpar.
However, at the risk of sounding cliché, life is a journey that comes with a few detours that we cannot navigate completely on our own, and that’s okay. Notice how athletes, entrepreneurs, and leaders create tribes of mentors, trainers, coaches, and advisers to bring them to the next level. They are human, just like you, so why should you feel any shame for seeking out the same?
Road Warrior Strong was created to not only support individual strength, but also the collective strength of our ragtag tribe of road warriors. So I want to hear all about the struggles and challenges you face on the a road. Where do you need help, and how can we create a tribe that supports each other? Don't be afraid to email me directly or share your thoughts in the comments below. Trust me, you are not alone!