Last month I was at a conference listening to Vicki Saunders speak.

Vicki is the founder of SheEO, an organization that supports and finances female innovators and entrepreneurs through a concept she calls radical generosity.

At one point, she asked us a question: “How many of you would help someone you knew was in need if you could?”

All 93 of us raised our hands.

“Okay,” she said. “Now raise your hands if you feel comfortable asking somebody for help.”

About seven people raised their hands. I wasn’t one of them.

“See?! Now, why is that? You clearly see that people are all around you that want to help and you’re not taking advantage of that. We all need help sometimes. And not only that, you’re depriving those people of the opportunity to contribute to your success or accomplishments.”

I had never thought of it that way, but it makes total sense. Why is it that we are so averse to asking for and accepting help? Is it that it makes us feel like we are inadequate or inept? Is it because we don’t want to be a burden to people?

Nobody has achieved anything great completely on their own.

I saw this firsthand over the past week when dispersing the funds we raised for Hurricane Florence relief. Several people, in dire situations, were reluctant to take money because, according to them, “there are lots of people worse off.”

I understood their point, because some people literally lost everything, but it was a little hard to understand — while I stood among their piles of furniture, inventory, clothes, and other belongings ruined by the flood — why they struggled to accept the help they so clearly needed.

When I stood my ground and was adamant about giving the small donation, almost all of them broke into tears. It is a long road to recovery and they will need all the help they can get.

The times will come, more often than not, where we need an extra push, or an extra pull, or just a helping hand. We owe it to ourselves, and to those that care about us, to accept the help.

But the real goal is this: when we are to the point where we’re able to extend that hand back to someone else, we have to be there. That’s what makes the pay-it-forward system work.

There’s no doubt in my mind the people I helped last week would have done the same for me.

SheEO’s credo is simple: “If you need something, ask. If you have something to give, please offer it. We are all at different stages and ages and we come from different experiences. We are here with our sleeves rolled up, ready to help one another.”

Although in this case, it applies to women supporting women, I think that we’d all be wise to listen to these words and take heed of this advice.

The part that sticks out to me is: “we are all at different stages and age and we come from different experiences.”

I will gladly help someone who is struggling, because I know what it is like to struggle. I will offer someone help, because I know how relieving it felt when someone helped me during those times. And moving forward, I will try to be better about asking for help when I need it, because sometimes (many times, in fact) we just can’t get there alone.

There’s an old saying that does it better than I can.

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”