Come Up for Air

Originally published in June 2005 as a Goals Gone Wild newsletter.

Last week our local news media covered the story of an endangered right whale entangled in fishing gear off the coast of Cape Cod. The Coast Guard was called, Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies raced to the scene, New England Aquarium sent a ship and two NOAA planes circled the area.

Unfortunately they didn’t find the whale, known as whale 1167 to researchers. (We’ll call him Jack.)

This story struck a chord with me and made me think about the way many of us let unfinished business (and missed goals) entangle us and drag us under. Sometimes we’re tied up for years. A sense of failure gets in our heads and we get down on ourselves. Worst of all, these entanglements can force us to lower our sights and make us give up on our dreams. And that’s the last thing any of us should do.

So what can we do? How do we get back in the game? What can we learn from Jack’s story?

Whether we realize it or not there are often teams of people waiting for the chance to help. All we have to do is come up for air and let them know we’re ready.

So how do we come up for air? If you have something hanging over your head, face up to it. Find a way to talk about it. Find a way to deal with it. Ask for help with it.

If you’re anything like me, when things aren’t going well you tend to hide from the folks that can help. Important safety tip, Egon, don’t hide! Friends, family, colleagues and coaches, heck, maybe even the Coast Guard, are standing by – on watch – ready to jump in and help you succeed.

You know how I know? Because I know you look for ways to help people. We love to help others succeed! It feels great when we see them win.

We all need a helping hand at one point or another. When we’re so willing to lend one, doesn’t it make sense to ask for one every once in awhile?

If you’re facing a tough situation, be sure to reach out. Asking for help may be exactly what you need to get back on track.

Trust me: you’ll be glad you did.

photo credit Na Pali Riders


  1. This is so true. It is so much easier to offer help than to ask for it. so we make life a lot harder for ourselves by trying to do everything alone. It’s good to have a reminder to reach out for ourselves too!

    • Jim says:

      Absolutely. I’m not sure there’s anyone who pulls themselves up by their bootstraps without someone holding a shoehorn, somewhere.

  2. Lynda Shoup says:

    Hey Jim,

    You’ve done it again! The right message at the right time.

    As I read through this post I kept thinking about how many ways this could encourage a person. There are so many situations which make us feel overwhelmed and underprepared. And so many times it is easy to push the things which are important to us aside because we are just too busy.

    You are an inspiration.

    • Jim says:

      I don’t know why it’s so hard. Probably because we don’t want to deal with it, and we feel that circumstances are beyond our control. The funny thing is that, as soon as I reach out for help I feel better because I’m taking steps to be back in control.

  3. Hey!

    Well said! I think people assume that they are the only one who need help and that makes them feel weak. The truth is, however, everyone needs help sometimes–even if it’s just a pep talk.

    I’ve often wondered what whales are thinking during these rescues. They are so intelligent–I guess they would know that they are being helped, but I bet they get pretty stressed out. (OMG! That sounds like a writer! 😉


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