Imagine you’re stuck. Like really stuck. With a massive problem. But you don’t like to ask for help. Maybe, you don’t want to be seen as being weak or vulnerable.
Some years ago we went on holiday to the Red Sea. We’d been the previous year and I’d learned the basics of windsurfing. This time around I wanted to take it to the next level.
The skies were clear sapphire blue and the wind was driving down off the Sinai desert, with the intense heat of a hot hairdryer. And there I was bobbing along a fair distance from the beach, with a spit of sand was close by.
The sea was as calm as could be with everyone so distant. It’s like you’re the only person there, completely in the moment. I could hear the noise of small waves babbling against the board and the occasional shout. There was a multitude of small sails moving skidding silently across the glistening dark blue sea and the sight of the occasional kite surfer being lifted up 10, 15 feet or more into the air. And there I was bobbing along, feeling the warm breeze on my face and the taste of sea salt on my lips. But I was really impatient. I wanted to go faster, just like the big boys.
I really wanted to experience that speed across the sea, to feel that same thrill and exhilaration that they were. In my mind I was Braveheart screaming FREEDOM, I was Maximus Decimus Meridius general of the legions of Rome shouting, “Are you not entertained?”. The reality was I was actually Mr Bean on a windsurf.
Ignoring the truth of my ability I attached the hook on my belt to the small loop of rope on the boom of the sail. And then there was a sudden gust of wind. I was caught off balance and was thrown forward smashing my shoulder into the boom.
In a flash I went from being Neptune of the waves to fallen sailor. I couldn’t move my arm. I knew it had come out of joint at the shoulder. I’d done it before. And it really hurt when I tried to move it.
Fortunately, the water wasn’t very deep, just up to my waist and I was able to stand and shout for help. I shouted out loudly to a passing surfer. Nothing. And then again. Louder. It turned out he knew just enough English to understand that I’d hurt myself badly and went off for help. Meanwhile I stood there cradling my now useless right arm until help arrived. And it really, really hurt.
Eventually help arrived and I was taken by speedboat to the hotel clinic and knocked out. I awoke to find my arm in a sling and the doctor said I was free to go back out windsurfing. Guess what? I didn’t do that. I’ve never injured my shoulder windsurfing since that time. Primarily, because I’ve never been windsurfing ever again.
The reality of the situation was I had no option but to shout out for help. There was no room for ego, for feeling a sense of loss of pride. Most situations you find yourself in won’t be this extreme.
Down the years I’ve learned to swallow my ego, to always be prepared to shout out for help. Indeed, shouting out for help can take you to places you never even dreamt existed.
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