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Asking for Help is Hard

Unless you’re The Beatles—it was probably easier for them since it was a hit.  The very first word in the song is “HELP!”  How often is help your first word?  Or first question?  Or even in your top 10 list of questions?  Why is it so hard for a lot of us to ask for assistance outside of an emergency?  We are business owners, managers, and leaders—we make things happen, darn it!!  Hmm…perhaps this is part of the problem.

“I never needed anybody’s help in any way”

We’re taught early on to value strength and pity weakness. “Pull yourself up by your bootstraps…work hard and accomplish anything you set your mind to”…insert any empowering cliché you want.  Most are not focused on “we” so the assumption is that all this happens on the back of one person.  We all know that there’s a lot of help along the way from parents, teachers, and friends but that’s not the big focus and these kind folks are often the first to pat us on the back for our wins to build us up.  When we falter, they quietly stabilize us, but they’re treated as a one-off thing. 

The word is getting out via social media that failure and accepting help are normal parts of growing.  All of us must share our falls and normalize those of others to show the power of an assist.  I do childcare occasionally at my yoga studio and when one of the kiddos tumbles or struggles, I fight my urge to distract their focus and minimize the discomfort.  Instead, I empathize and normalize, “Falling is frustrating and hurts-ouch! I don’t like it when I fall either and sometimes I need help.  May I help you?”.  The faster that we accept that we will fall and need help the quicker we can use the assistance wisely.

“My independence seems to vanish in the haze”

Still, it takes a lot of us a good long time before we embrace help and use it as the powerful tool it can be. I spoke with two business leaders last week about this very thing and it was fascinating that both folks know they need help, recognize that they struggle seeking it out, and wonder what their problem is with this. I’ve given it a lot of thought and I’ve noticed as we live life, we typically get wiser and see the value of help but we also find some assistance to be a challenge to our independence.  Remember, we were brought up to rely on ourselves and tend to think we can do it all.

While we may be more confident in our abilities and welcome help we choose to ask for, we also hate feeling that some assistance is now required.  It can be challenging to discern if we want the help so we can focus on our genius work vs. needing the help because we’re no longer enough.  I say it’s all a choice…we’re continually evolving and while we may technically be able to do something…it that really the best use of our time and energy? The key is to be able to trust those working with you and know that they want you to be successful.

“And I do appreciate you being ‘round”

Both of the business leaders I spoke with last week told me they were grateful to talk with me and hire me as a consultant…to get the help they need. Two of my professional “allies” referred these clients.  My allies are valuable relationships because we want success for one another and for other allies in our circles. Positive, honest relationships are critical for success in life and in business—it really is all about who you know.

Asking allies for help is still not easy or necessarily comfortable but you know they have your best interest at heart. Bonus! You may not have to ask because your allies often see when you’re struggling and reach out…that’s when you know your relationship is a solid mutual investment. The key is to let them know what you need or how you are struggling while telling them how much you appreciate their help. Opening ourselves to the possibilities and truly appreciating the resources around us and their willingness to lend a hand is how we all will succeed while having enough to assist someone else. This is the power of HELP!  Take a listen to this Beatles classic…does it sound weak to you?

3 Takeaway Tips

  1. Invest in relationships. I may sound like a broken record and I don’t care. These can be professional allies, friends and family, or even community-based (the gym, a temple, non-profit) relationships. Find, build and nurture them.  Click Here for my blog post!
  2. Get clear about your top 3-5 values so when you do need help, you’ll find people who share your values and will be an extension of you/your business as they lend a hand or work for you. When the person helping or working for you doesn’t share your values, it’s not going to feel right and then you’ll be less confident about seeking help in the future.
  3. It’s ok to hire someone or swap services. Sometimes people dread asking for help because they think feel like a mooch. There are times when the budget is tight so swap services or find a way to benefit the helper. Talk about your limitations and how you can help each other…don’t be upset if the other person can’t help right now-ask them if they know of someone else!  As you grow and prosper, hire someone and use your relationships to find the best candidates!

I would like your help!

If you found this post or past posts helpful, please share with 1-2 of your allies or friends.  Remember, signing up for Tuesday Tidbits means you get this handy info early PLUS a bonus tip each week!

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