I have two questions for you:
- On a scale of 1-10, how proud are you?
- On a scale of 1-10, how selfish are you?
As a driven person, I know how it is to work harder than everyone else, harder than what the task requires. I can’t help it. It’s just a part of who I am. I also get a sort of “high” whenever I figure out a problem all by myself. It feeds my poor little egotistical heart.
However, this habit is exhausting and time-consuming.
After years of reading self-improvement books and working with amazing people, I came up with a solution — my version of the 15-minute rule. It’s not the rule that students use to explain why they’re late in class. It also has nothing to do with procrastination. This rule is for us to learn humility and selflessness.
To keep my pride in check, I use the 15-minute rule when solving a problem. I don’t want to be a burden to anyone, so I always try to solve problems on my own whenever I can — but not indefinitely. I’ll spend a solid 15 minutes on it. If I haven’t figured it out yet after that time, I wouldn’t be able to figure it out on my own even if I pull out all of my hairs trying. Then, I would know it’s time to ask for help.
Since I’ve already spent 15 minutes trying to solve it, I would be able to list down the things that didn’t work. The helper will then arrive at the solution more easily. They’ll be able to help you better. This also shows them that you value their time and expertise. And don’t worry about being a nuisance to people. I know only a few people who would get irritated when I ask for help. The ones worth keeping in your life will be more than happy to assist you with a problem, if they knew you’ve already spent time trying to solve it.
To return the favor, I also use the 15-minute rule. This means if someone needs my help and it would take 15-minutes or less, I’ll do it. If my friends can reach me, it means I’m only doing light tasks (I’m offline and holed up in my desk when I’m doing intense work), and therefore can spare a little time to be of service to them. If people go to your for help, you should feel flattered and blessed because it means you have the skills or tools they need.
The world will be a more pleasant place to live in if we know our limitations and advantages, not to feel sorry or proud about ourselves, but to know how we can help and be helped.