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Be independent, but recognize when you need help

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Kristen Asleson

Two of my most favorite possessions have four legs and fur and carry the names Diamond and Sapphire. Although retired in every sense of the word, there is a certain level of peace and comfort just being able to glance out the window and see them grazing in the pasture. When I just need to talk or vent, my horses are always there for me and never respond in a manner that is critical. And, in the winter, they eat a lot of hay.

Every winter it seems as though I scramble occasionally in having hay delivered, or sometimes even locating it. When I am really in need, our local plumber, Mike, will leave a bale outside his shop door, and once, a bale showed up in the back of my Envoy. And then there is David, who always has 10 or so bales to spare and has saved me more than once!

Last week, after the snowfall, David bailed me out yet again. However, I needed to borrow a truck and go pick them up. Thankfully, they had been thrown down from the hay mow and stored in the milk shed, so loading them would be all I had to do. Being in and out of recovery for the past year has left me quite weak, but I figured this was one chore I could get done quickly.

With a borrowed truck, I set out for desolate areas of the unknown, well sort of. With the mailbox indicating the location of the driveway, I began to blaze through. Slow and steady wins the race, right? Or gets you stuck, as in my case. There I sat, with no jacket and wearing only Crocs. And no one in sight. In irritation, I walked to the milk house, about a football field length away and attempted a bale in each hand thinking five trips would be fine. Halfway back, cold and in tears, I sat down on a bale and felt my eyes begin to burn. In a matter of five minutes every emotion including anger for being in recovery from cancer, sad that I was weak, glad that my horses would be fed, and then helplessness as to how to get the truck unstuck.

Why did I not take the help when offered? And then, I heard another vehicle. Miraculously, there was David coming over to do chores. He said he had caught sight of the truck and my struggles from the window a "farm over."Within minutes, I was warm, unstuck, and loaded with hay. Sheepishly I thanked him and was on my way.

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In recapping my story, my brother asked, "What is wrong with you? Why did you try this alone?"

I thought, "What’s wrong with exhibiting independence? Or was I really that stubborn?"

Has your employer, manager, or a trainer at work ever said, "If you need help, just ask." And did you? Or did you struggle to find the answer on your own, perhaps wasting time in doing so?

There is a fine line between being "independent" and "stubborn." Professionally, being stubborn can harm your work productivity and work relationships. In essence, stubbornness often means you are determined to do things your way, even though the outcome might not be the best.

On the flip side, one can show independence by getting their projects done well and asking for ideas or better ways of doing things.

Being "stubbornly independent" is an OK characteristic to have and use now and then. But, keep in mind that asking for help when you need it is a sign of strength, and recognizing you need help shows maturity.

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