How many times have any of the following phrases run through your head? I’m pretty sure there have been times when you’ve thought/felt like at least a couple of the above. All completely normal responses, I might add.
However, they’re not particularly conducive to achieving anything. So, I urge you to just ask for help.
Don’t get me wrong – I’m not talking about getting other people to do what you’re completely capable of because you’re too lazy to do it yourself.
I’m talking about those times when getting assistance, guidance or advice from someone else would actually be a positive and productive thing to do. So, why don’t we ask for help more often? Lots of reasons. I have a great reason. Well, in my mind it was a great reason.
Let me share the story with you. Sit back and relax. It started with something that happened when I was just five years old. Just a tiny, wee thing (I’m only 157cm now, so I was tiny at five) it involved something like this: Except, that’s not EXACTLY it, since it happened over 30 years ago and I never took a photo – but it’s a hole in the ground. There was some building going on across the road from my house at an empty site. I’m not sure what for, but there was a big hole in the ground (and no workmen at the time either). My Mum and Dad told me to stay away from it.
And so, I was playing after school with the kid next door, back in the days when it was safe for kids to do that. And I thought it would be cool to go exploring. In the hole. So we did. We climbed down into the hole.
To be honest, there wasn’t much to see when we got in there. Lots of dirt. The only trouble was, we were both so little, we couldn’t get back out again. We tried lifting each other up, but we weren’t strong enough. We tried standing on each others backs, but we still weren’t tall enough to climb out. It felt like we were stuck down there for ages. I think time passes differently when you’re five.
Finally, after what seemed like forever, or maybe it was 10 minutes, we concluded we were well and truly stuck and needed help. So, we started shouting. “Help!” The women in the house next door must have heard our cries and came to rescue us. She pulled us both up and marched us home to our parents – my friend first, then me.
The only thing I remember about the next few minutes is the look on my Dad’s face when she told him where she found me. He was furious, “How many times have I told you to stay away from the building site?” – obviously not enough. I didn’t say that, but I’m sure I thought it. Then, I got a hiding. And it was dinner time and my ass hurt so much I didn’t want to sit down for dinner.
But, there I was sitting at the table, with searing pain in my butt, and I very clearly remember thinking to myself “Well, I’m never going to ask anyone for help ever again, it just gets me into trouble”
And so I didn’t. My five-year old brain connected asking for help with bad consequences and I spent the rest of my childhood and early adulthood, never putting my hand up, even when I really needed help. I learnt to be very self-sufficient, quite often to my detriment. My mother told me that I wouldn’t even let her help me when I fell over and scraped my knees.
And it wasn’t til I was in my mid-20s that I realised what I was doing. I’d just quit a perfectly good job that had been created for me, to challenge me, at a great company, with great people and great future opportunities, because I needed help and I was terrified of getting into trouble if I asked – so instead, I walked away.
Now, you probably don’t have a specific incident like that, or maybe you did or maybe gives you an idea of why not wanting to ask for help can be a problem for so many people.
But, here’s the thing. Asking for help is empowering.
- It shows that you know your own limitations and are not scared to step up.
- It shows that you take responsibility for your own achievements.
- It shows that you can connect yourself with someone else who can provide the resources you need.
- And it shows that you don’t want to waste time, energy or create unnecessary stress when someone else can help you get something done faster or better.
Asking for help is really a sign of strength and courage.
And what it also does it gives others the chance to help you. Because let’s face it, most of us would go out of our way to help a friend, or a stranger even. For most of us, altruism is just in our nature. And seriously, I get a real kick out of helping someone else….yet still struggle sometimes to ask for help.
But, earlier this week I realised that I was back to my old tricks. With stuff that’s happened in my life over the past few months my motivation to achieve things in my business as well as personal life has, shall we say waned? On Monday morning I had my first training session for the year with the trainer I’ve had for about 18 months. I was planning on telling him that I thought it was time I moved on…I’d even lost the motivation to train with him. But, for 30 minutes we talked (whilst I walked briskly on the treadmill)….he grilled me about my goals: personal, health, even business. He wanted to know what I was going to do about achieving them. He took notes and by the time I got home, he’d typed them up, emailed them to me and told me to add to the lists and he expected to see at least 6 things ticked off by our next session.
That’s when I realised I should have talked with him earlier and asked for help. Luckily he knew me well enough to help me anyway. It kicked me into action. Within hours I’d asked another three people for help – and not surprisingly all said yes. I’ve since asked another couple of people and had the same response. ***Update Sat 29 Jan – I’ve asked 6 people for help – 6 positive responses.
I encourage you now to just ask for help. Use whatever resources you have available – go face-to-face,
call someone, text people, flick out an email, tweet your request (and hashtag it #justaskforhelp), post on an online forum or send out the call on Facebook. Whatever works. Just ask for help.
So, there you go. “My name is Rachel. And sometimes I’m afraid to ask for help” – the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem. I have, and now I tell people it’s a problem, so they can help me, even if I haven’t asked. Because sometimes, I still forget to ask. Because sometimes, I’m still stuck in that hole.* If you want to read more about how to ask for help, there’s some good reading here and here, and even some research findings here.
**If you’ve got more ideas or thoughts on this, feel free to comment below.
***And if you think other people will benefit from my ramblings, then by all mean, click a link below to share it via Twitter or Facebook or email it.