In my leadership training course, the exercise that brought the biggest insights (as well as the most frustration) was a maze-like ropes course. The purpose was to teach us that one wins by asking for help sooner rather than later.
Imagine it: twenty accomplished professionals wandering around in the woods for a looooooong time before asking for help. It’s laughable now, but I’m still amazed at how difficult it is, even after that illustrative exercise, to reach for assistance.
Calling for help is a sign of strength, not weakness. Anyone who has achieved any success will tell you that they did it with the support of others. I would not have written my books, built my business and traveled extensively had it not been for a lot of support.
Why we refuse to tap into help is a huge topic, and here I’ll share five ways to make getting help easier.
1. Be very clear about what you are trying to accomplish. Identify your ideal outcome for your book, project or business. Knowing what you are reaching for can illuminate weak spots.
2. Clarify what you need. Be specific about what support will best serve you and your goals. Do you need accountability, brainstorming, resource sharing?
This is the biggest stumbling block I see – people don’t know what they need. Make a list of what you need.
3. Identify sources of support – where can you get what you need? You may have people in mind, or you may still need to do your research to find the best person to help you. Go to the next step for tips on that.
4. Consult your tribe: “Who do you know who can help me…” fill in the blank with your answers from step two.
5. Interview people who can help you. Before you meet, make notes about your needs, your timeframe, your budget and your expectations. Communicating your desired outcome and specific needs will save time and prevent confusion.
Still dragging your feet getting help? You might be unclear on when it’s good to reach for support. Here are six scenarios where getting assistance can make life easier. Specific requests are easier to make and easier to agree to.
1. Ask for a brainstorming/clarifying session. Contact a friend or colleague and ask “Can I bounce something off you for 15-30 minutes?”
2. Ask for help with a written piece. Be clear about what your writing is trying to accomplish. Send it with a note: “I need feedback on my About page for my blog. Can you look at this and tell me if it’s meeting my goal/intention of…”
If you’re writing and publishing a blog or newsletter, you should have a regular reader or editor. I have a writing buddy, and we send our writing back and forth for feedback.
3. Steady on. Sometimes we lose our way and need to get back on track. Call or email a cohort and ask: “I’m feeling a bit lost. Can you remind me of my ultimate goal?”
4. Dispel despair. Then there are those disheartening moments when you wish you’d stayed in the box where things are safe and easy. Ask a friend: “Remind me why I am trying to write this book!”
5. Illuminate blind spots. When we’re creating something there’s always angles we don’t see. Ask a colleague: “Tell me what I am not seeing. What patterns might I be mindlessly repeating? What am I overlooking?”
6. Delegate. We often believe that we can do it better and faster. But being able to delegate is one of the most powerful ways to get things done and share the journey. Clarify what you want done and then ask: “Can you take this part over for me? I need it by this date.”
See how good it feels? Helping each other relax in the puppy pile.
We can’t thrive without the assistance of others. My leadership tribe mates still help me, and we’re still always busting each other for not asking for help. Don’t waste time and energy wandering around on your own.
What makes it easier for you to ask for help? Share your tips below.