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Three Words to Success

Three Words to Success Bicycle Crash

(A Change Management Article)

“I Need Help”

A number of years ago, I went out for a bike ride. I had the privilege of living in a neighborhood that had a combination of paved trails and roads that allowed for a mid-length ride. The trail had its challenges, places where it washed out in the rain, potholes, hills, and blind curves. However, the challenge that was always the most fun was a hill that crossed a road. The hill climbed up about twelve feet to the road at almost a one hundred percent grade before dropping the same on the other side. Neither curb was cut, so I habitually pedaled hard uphill, flew off the first curb, and bunny-hopped the second, flying downhill.

On this occasion, the streets were wet, and I made a bad decision. I tried to minimize the height of the jump over the second curb to prevent being airborne for the full drop and hitting slick pavement. The mistake was not getting enough height over the curb. I went airborne, my shoes still firmly clipped into my pedals when I crashed at the bottom of the hill.

After a minute, finally unclipped, I struggled to stand up. Grabbing the bike by the stem with my right hand, I began to walk home, letting it roll beside me. With my left arm cradled to my side, blood running down my legs, and struggling to breathe with what I would later learn was three broken ribs, I slowly made my way home.

Embarrassed, I put the bike between the road and me, and straightened every time a car passed, hiding my injuries. Other bikers passed, and some who knew me stopped to check and admire my road rash. Again, I hid my sprained wrist and broken ribs.

Three simple words would have ended my misery, “I need help.” But embarrassment, shame, and pride kept me from speaking. Instead, I took the long walk home alone, “suffering in noble silence.” Though there was truly nothing noble about it.

Information technology leaders often exhibit the same behavior. They are told all good leaders manage their organizations including the changes needed. However, the truth is most are better at leading technology changes than leading cultural changes. And while there doesn’t appear to be any stigma in hiring experts for technology, they balk at hiring change management experts. Citing cost controls, no return on investment, or their own expertise... they never ask for help.

Truthfully, preventing a single resignation during a major change gives us the ROI yield we are looking for. And regardless of how much expertise we have in managing change, there is always room for help. Our unwillingness to ask for help hurts us, our organizations, and our customers.

While embarrassment, shame, and pride are just three reasons we may not ask for help, they are a sure signal that our emotional intelligence is telling us we need to.

In every change effort there are obstacles, challenges and mistakes. Never be afraid to ask for help. How we act and recover from those mistakes demonstrates our leadership.

The three simple words that lead to success: “I Need Help.”

© 2018 Barry Robbins, Silver Bear Solutions

Contact The Author

Barry Robbins is an IT Executive with a strong record of success in transforming IT organizations by envisioning, developing, and implementing IT business solutions.


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