Woah, support

Writing that blog post about burnout was very cathartic, and it helped me to feel like I did something about it. It also helped me realize how huge my network is, in terms of support. Most of my students have emailed me. Most of the people that I've ever helped from Girl Develop It, and from other events in the community that I've helped with have emailed me. People from organizations that I care about have emailed me. Friends of mine from all over the world have emailed me. It made me realize that I have friends all over the world, and that I have friends who can help me, and that I can ask for help when I need to. That's a big deal.

Asking for help when you need is something is a skill. It's something that you have to learn to do. In order to ask for help from someone, you need to know what it is that they can actually help you with. Were you to ask your friend who's a doctor for help with your computer, you might not get a very good result. But if you ask them what to do about your stress level, you might get actually a really reasonable and helpful answer. The other thing that you need to keep in mind when you ask a person for help is what kind of time commitment they can actually give you, and how much you are actually committing them to do. You don't want to overcommit your friends. You don't want to ask for too much, but you can ask for a significant amount from people.A big thing to note is that it's not some currency that you're spending on the relationship. You're actually investing in the relationship that you have with a person. What you're doing is you're saying, "I trust you enough to handle something for me, and I would do this for you as well."

So, there's trust. There's investment in the relationship. Then there's that help. The energy of delegating something sometimes seems like too much. Sometimes, all you think you need is for everyone to leave you alone, but don't take for granted that the energy of delegation is going to be too much. It's like a get out of jail free card. You get a chance to take the cognitive load that something would have cost you, and just wipe it away. That's worth a lot, and is actually really helpful.

So, I'm getting help of different kinds from my friends and I'm getting help for my students, which is a big deal to me. I'm getting help with whiteboarding practice. I'm also getting help with development. I mean, people will just do some bug fixes for you, or they'll step up and organize the contributions they're already making for you.

Another huge thing that people have helped me with recently is typing things out for me. For instance, this blog post is being transcribed by my assistant, who I totally don't pay enough to do this. But, she's helping me because I have recently gotten carpal tunnel syndrome so bad that I just can't type or do anything really with my hands. So, I'm able to write and express myself without being in pain, and that's a big deal.

Recently, I had to think through the workflow of an application that I'm responsible for getting out before the next season of Hackbright starts. All of my direct reports helped me walk through that mentally, and offered their advice, support, and thoughts. I got several user stories spec'd out in like 15 minutes that I never would've gotten done by myself. I would have just stared at the screen like a burned-out mess.

It's a bit like pair programming, working through ideas with someone. When you have to talk it out, you can do problem solving in a way that you don't normally do. You're forced to think through the corner cases, and you're forced to think all the way through assumptions that you might make and shortcuts that you might take for yourself. 


Anyway, so that was a long-winded way of saying thanks, everyone. I hope that this post maybe helps you in a way, by providing a blueprint to ask for help from others when you're totally overwhelmed.