“I know you think you should be able to do everything yourself” I say to the group I spoke to yesterday. Somewhere along the path of our lives we have adopted some notion that if we have to ask for help it means we are weak, or incompetent or some other version of insufficient. In fact, when I inquire into this, it may be rooted for many of us in our young childhood when our parents were trying to have us get some independence. Obviously, that is what needed to happen when we were young and exactly what our parents should have been teaching it. However, as we as adults, are living out our lives and in particular, in our careers, this continuation of this thinking and acting habit can be the limiter of what is possible for us and our own success.
I can think back to my own upbringing as one of five children-I learned to cook a whole meal for my family by age 8, and I was fiercely independent. This served me well in so many ways and allowed me to be successful in school first, then as a young wife and mother and then as a divorced single parent. As someone who changed careers in mid-life, I owe part of that successful transition to my ability to achieve on my own. As an entrepreneur, and as a coach, what I have observed, and coached numerous people on, independence can also be detrimental to the fullest opportunity of success.
One of the most interesting and confounding dynamics in this situation is that when I ask people what experience really moved and touched their soul and made them feel fulfilled- almost without exception, they tell me some incident in which they helped someone else out. If you observe what happens in times of national or international crisis, you will see scores of people coming to aid other people. It feels good to help another person, for no reason, other than they need it and you can give that help. However, what is crazy is- we love helping others and yet don’t want to be helped or ask for help ourselves! Follow this for a minute- we feel good when we help, we won’t ask for or (often) allow others to help us-so there seems to be a bit of a conundrum! We have to allow ourselves to ask for support and in doing so, we allow people the opportunity of feeling good because they contributed to us. Pretty great, don’t you think!
The other important factor to consider is when we ask for support, we can achieve our dreams. You and I may be great at whatever we do, we might be brilliant and accomplished, and, at the same time, we are limited. Having others work with us, allows us to achieve more.
Here is the most important thing-it does not mean you are weak, or in any way insufficient because you ask for help. Consider it means you are committed. It means you are smart enough to utilize the resources around you in other people.
This is the best example of win-win that I know of. You want to achieve whatever it is you want and you face the reality that with support and the contribution of others, you can go farther. You ask for support. You give those that say yes and support you an opportunity to contribute and feel good about themselves for that. Seems like a pretty good deal!