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Getting DIY Help – The Helping Hand Equation

We all need a hand from time to time. Someone to hold a door when your hands are full, someone to help you move into a new place, someone to help you bury a body…you know, the regular stuff. But, with each of these tasks, there is an unspoken cost.

The Helping Hand Equation

Some of these costs we recognize. No one likes moving into a new place. Want to ask a friend? You better have beer and pizza on hand. But that cost also applies to our egos. When we find ourselves staring at a problem we do a mental calculation:

((D+Y) x (1+(T/10))) – (E*C)


  • D = Difficulty of task (1 is easy, 10 is near impossible)
  • Y = Number of hours watching YouTube to figure it out myself
  • T = Tolerance for an imperfect result (1 – no one will ever see it, 10 – you can see it from the street)
  • E = How embarrassing would it be to ask for help? (1 – I could never be expected to know how to do this, 10 – Dude, it’s a lightbulb. Just screw it in.)
  • C = Friend multiplier

We all do this. Take the difficulty of the task plus the time it would take to figure it out, multiplied by how noticeable the results will be. We then weigh that against how much of a hit our ego will take to go hat-in-hand to a friend asking for help.

And not all our friends are equal are they?

Getting DIY Help: The True Cost of Friendship

Some friends will help you with your DIY projects without a second thought. Plus, they will never mention to anyone that you needed help learning how to pressure wash your driveway. Others will bring it up at every single opportunity.

These factors are not discrete. The harder the DIY task, the less embarrassment you feel. But the equation does work. If we end up with a positive number, we ask for help. We end up negative and we don’t.

I’m not making any value judgments here. We all have our strengths and weaknesses. My strength? My E is remarkably low. I have no shame when it comes to asking for help. I once called a friend to come over to kill a bee. No, I’m not allergic. No, I wasn’t confined to my bed or otherwise unable. It was a big freaking bee. Like, really big.

When we look at this equation, one thing stands out: We should endeavor to reduce our C. We need to make it easy for people to ask us for help. What good is all our knowledge and skills if we can’t help out our friends?

Don’t Be “That Guy”

I know what you’re saying: “What about Chad?”

Everyone has a Chad. That guy that has no problem asking you for help for everything.

“Chad’s on the phone. Says he tried to take out a tree and it hit the roof. Can you come by?”
“Hey man, Chad here. I’m headed to the store. What do I need to install a jacuzzi tub?”
“Dude, what do you know about fuse boxes?”

For the Chads of the world, we inflate our C’s. I get that. Sometimes it seems that saying “Yes” just once to a person risks turning them into a Chad. But we can’t control that. It blows the whole helping hand equation apart. We can only hope that people will have sufficiently high E’s to keep them from coming back over and over. But that leads me to my second and final point.

Don’t be a Chad. Chad sucks.

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