Back in 2016, I stayed at The Plaza Hotel in New York City the night before delivering a presentation. Have you heard of it? It’s the fanciest hotel I have ever stayed in.
The room came equipped with a beautiful chandelier above the bed, an iPad with temperature controls for each room, a heated floor in the bathroom, a jumbo-sized bathtub, with one of those rainfall showerheads.
I was excited for my morning shower!
Expecting Luxury, Embracing Reality
A sweaty mess after my morning workout, and about an hour before the start of my talk, I got my clothes ready, anticipating a luxurious shower.
As with most showers, there were three levers. One for hot, cold, and then a lever to release the water up into the showerhead. There was also a temperature gauge, which made little sense to me (don’t you set the temperature by adjusting the hot and cold?), but I set it anyway.
I turned on the hot, then the cold, adjusted the temperature gage, and then flipped the middle lever. The rainfall begins, right? Wrong.
Getting It Wrong
A trickle of water was coming through the showerhead. I must have done something wrong, I thought, as I shut everything off and tried again. But still no water came through the showerhead.
A strong stream of water was coming through the faucet, but nothing was coming through the showerhead. I was perplexed. And, I needed to get ready for my speech.
So, I started all over again, a few more times. Still… nothing.
What do you do? Call the front desk?
Make Time For Learning, Discovering, and Experiencing
No way! I should know how to turn on this shower, I thought, besides, I don’t have time.
Has this ever happened to you? Rather than simply admit to lacking a particular skill set (a shower, for the record, shouldn’t need a skill set), you try and try to get it right. At some point you either give up, accept that you’re never going to get it right, or you ask for help.
Ask For The Help You Need
So, there I am, crouched down, with my head under the fancy faucet (that doesn’t actually stick out far enough to get my head all the way under it), rinsing out the shampoo. A few minutes later, after finally getting most of the conditioner out, I stood up and turned off the shower.
That’s when the most interesting thing happened… the rainfall began in all its glory!
Making Time For Mistakes
What the ____? How is that even possible?
With no time to think it through, I got ready and headed down for a fun and engaging conversation with some of the coolest human resource professionals.
Afterward, I marched back up those stairs into my room, and proceeded to take a video of myself trying to turn this thing on. I sent it to a mechanically minded friend, who proceeded to laugh hysterically.
While she tried relentlessly to explain how it works, I wondered why I had struggled to ask for the help I needed. Why did I think I should already know how to use this shower?
You Should Already Know How To Do That
In the same vein, why do any of us think that we should already know what we haven’t yet figured out? A simple answer is: fear, which often sounds like this—
- What are they going to think of me when they find out I don’t know… ?
- What if I’m too old/young to start… ?
- What if I neglected my relationships so long that I can never get them back?
Rather than focusing on getting the resources we need to succeed, many of us ignore our incompetency, pretend it doesn’t exist, and hope it figures itself out. Too afraid to be seen as incompetent, we avoid making phone calls, asking for help, and (often subconsciously) agree to dealing with the discomfort of shoving our heads under the faucet. All the while missing out on the free-flowing, rainfall shower that’s possible in all areas of our lives.
Freedom to fail, learn, and grow begins when we question our “Shoulds,” and embrace failure as part of our route to achieving excellence.
Imagine the kinds of opportunities you can foster for yourself, the kind of results you could create, when you give yourself a chance to get the help you need. What’s perplexing for you right now? Where could you use help to improve your results?
Notice your “shoulds,” ask for the help, and discover how to turn on the showers of possibility in your career.
Here’s to your greatness,
Misti Burmeister has facilitated communication that results in trust and connection for nearly 20 years, increasing engagement and productivity across generations. Make sure your communication is coming across the way you intend, visit https://www.MistiBurmeister.com
Great article. I have one of those fancy showers (3 levers, 2 shower heads) and it took me a while to figure it out. It was NOT intuitive at all.
I understand your main premise– which is, don’t be afraid to ask for help– something that has taken me half a lifetime to figure out.
Anyway, I still think that some designers/engineers instead of making things far more intuitive, make too many assumptions that people will be able to figure things out. Hmmph. Easy if you’re the person who designed them. Not so easy if you’ve got shampoo dripping into your eyes.