I learned a principle early in life, while playing softball, that guided me when confronting the biggest challenges in my career. I discovered it is OK to ask for help.
We all find ourselves in need of a little help. Some lessons come to us early in life. I learned what to do about seeking help on the playground in the sixth grade.
During recess at Central Park Elementary School, the sixth and seventh grade boys played softball. Even though I definitely was not athletic and did not play well, I liked to play the game. At Central Park Elementary School we invented a special rule. After two strikes, a batter could choose a substitute to take his place for the third strike. If your substitute hit the ball, you could run the bases as if you hit it yourself.
I liked that rule, and I used it often. When I needed a substitute, I called on the best athlete in our school, my classmate Harry Blondheim. It delighted me to tap into and benefit from his talent. A few years later his outstanding ability would attract Harry a lot of attention and he would go on to become a star basketball player for the University of Georgia Bulldogs. For those of you who don’t have the good fortune of residing in Georgia, fans here say “BullDawgs.”
When I called on Harry, an expert, to take the next pitch, he always hit the ball giving me the opportunity to run the bases and enjoy the game.
I have used this story many times to illustrate how calling in the right substitute can make you a winner.
The valuable lesson I learned on the elementary school playground is simple and clear, and it stuck with me for the rest of my life; you will not strike out if you pick the best player to step in at the right moment. Pick the best player you can get to make things happen when you need help. It’s not the time to let your ego convince you that you must do it yourself. It’s not the time to get someone only marginally better than you so you won’t look so bad. Play it smart.
Call In an Expert
There have been situations where I have also used this illustration by reversing my role, so that I became the expert.
During the 1960s, I worked as a commercial food service design consultant. This story also worked as an illustration to potential clients of why they should call me in to design the restaurant or kitchen they wanted but were not able to design without professional help. In this version, I am “Harry” (the expert) and my client is “Jimmy” (the one who wants a hit and to run the bases).
Like all good stories, this one has been easy to adapt to many situations, especially when I wanted to illustrate the idea—when you need help, don’t hesitate, get the very best help available.
When you need help—call in an expert!