Screaming into the wind out in the wilderness is virtually useless. No one can hear you. However, a whistle provides a very different type of noise. When you are truly in the backcountry (and in some places even around town), a whistle provides protection against danger.
A whistle is a necessity in the woods, especially if you aren’t around people, in which case you might find yourself uncomfortably close to the wildlife. Have you ever seen a bear and tried to scream? It is the scream that no one hears because you open your mouth to scream but nothing comes out.
Even if a scream does escape, that gentle breeze that feels so good also muffles the sound of your scream, so no one hears you. But a whistle: that sound pierces through the wind to bring help running (either toward you or away from you). When the voice has been scared right out of you, a whistle will call for help.
When you’re kayaking in the backcountry, even going to the bathroom requires a whistle. You might not ever come face to face with a bear, but being face to face with your pants down puts whole new meaning to scaring the pants off you. You know the old story about being chased by a bear: You don’t have to be the fastest runner in the group; you just can’t be the slowest. Unfortunately, with your pants down, you probably aren’t going to run very fast should that bear come upon you. (Don’t you just love that image?)
What is your whistle in your family business and career? How do you call for help when needed? Who do you hope will come to your rescue? Or maybe you are the type to run around with your pants around your ankles screaming into the wind as the bear chases you. That is another decision you get to make. In our careers, there are lots of bears that threaten our livelihood: mergers, acquisitions, new technology, new bosses, competition, changing economic landscapes, lack of attention to detail, lack of personal and business growth. All of these factors might mean that you need to call for help.
Be willing to ask for help. Our society has too much of an attitude that portrays, “I can do it alone.” or “My way is best.” or “I don’t need you.” Needing and asking for help and another person’s perspectives is not a sign of weakness. In fact, it is a sign of strength. It may be the only way you get yourself out of your current jam.
Help can come from mentors, coaches, advisors, or trusted friends. Make sure you have people targeted that can help in certain situations and have a plan for the right people to contact based on the circumstances.
Career advice should probably come from someone older who has hit some rough spots but still succeeded in their career. Parenting advice probably comes best from parents who are at least ten years further down the road than you are and have walked through the parenting steps you’re currently taking. And of course, legal advice is always best from a lawyer.
Whatever the reason, don’t be afraid to whistle for help when you need it. It’s better than facing down a bear.