“Couch surfing and crowd surfing are basically the same thing. You’re falling into the audience and you’re trusting each other.” – Amanda Palmer, of The Dresden Dolls and Grand Theft Orchestra.
I don’t know about you but I find asking for what I need to be a little tough sometimes. Maybe it’s because I like people to think that I have it all together and that I don’t really need help, you know, because I’m tough like that. More likely it’s because I tend toward being a people-pleaser who doesn’t want to impose on someone else for help. I’ve spent many a day pushing into exhaustion or feeling overwhelmed because I didn’t feel comfortable admitting I needed help. Martyr please!
So I’m working on building new muscle memory by practicing asking for what I need. And guess what? I find that the answer is almost always, “Of course, I will help you.”
Here are a couple of things I wanted to share that I came across recently. They go straight to the heart of having the stones to show some vulnerability, ask for what we need, and then trust that someone will help. Not keen to show the world your fleshy underbelly? Maybe this TED talk by Amanda Palmer will change your mind.
If you don’t know about TED.com, TED stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design and their conferences aim to bring innovators and imaginative thinkers before live audiences to present “ideas worth spreading”. (I highly recommend streaming TED talks when folding mountains of laundry or ironing, for instance.) The TED site is a clearinghouse of cool, and the talks are a great distraction from mind-numbingly mundane tasks.
So Amanda Palmer’s talk is powerful to be sure. If it left you wanting more, then let’s double down here. Check out the documentary Craigslist Joe. Here’s the trailer. I watched this a few week’s ago at the urging of a documentary junkie friend of mine. In a nutshell, Joseph Garner spent a month living only off of Craigslist. He went into his experiment with no money, no contacts, and relying solely on Craigslist to eat, seek nightly shelter, transportation and all other basic necessities. What he got was a funny, quirky, moving set of experiences that reinforced the best of human generosity and faith in the kindness of strangers.
Amanda and Joe both used technology to crowd source getting their needs met. In the process, they encountered touching moments of random closeness with people who were strangers shortly before. Their stories struck a chord with me. Maybe they will with you too.