(Slowly) Learning to Ask for Help

August 5, 2022

I’ve been in business for 21 years. I’ve done it all of that time, nearly entirely on my own.

I’ve only (really) let other people help me in the last 4-5 years.

Why?

I felt it was my job to be the CEO-content-creator-primary-facilitator-and-general-heroic-entrepreneur.

It was my business with my name, so I should do all the work, right?

Ehhhh, it turns out I was wrong.

The funny thing about getting support in running a business is what I call the Paradox of Good Times.

When the times were good, I didn’t need any help. It was all running smooth.

But when times were tough—when I desperately needed to fix something, prevent something, solve something, or create something, yet couldn’t—it was too much to ask for help.

The times we need help the most are the most challenging times to ask for it.

Yet during the good times, I can tell myself the story that I don’t need help.

In life—and business—you must lay your eggs before they hatch, so to speak.

I’ve learned—finally—that practicing and continually asking for help, especially when times are good, will pay off when the going gets tough.

If you need a little help asking for help, here are six mindset shifts that helped me get over my blocks around asking for the support I need.

  1. Remember that I am not alone.

    On the darkest nights, the real monster under the bed is me, telling me, “I am alone.”

    When I tell myself I’m alone, I feel anxious, insecure, self-doubt, and shame. I frantically search for tools, answers, and solutions to the problems I face, and when none arise, my self-doubt continues.

    Asking for and getting help puts a mirror up in front of me that reminds me and grounds me in what is, in fact, real. I am not the first to face a problem like this, and I will not be the last. Knowing that others have faced problems like mine makes me feel less crazy and frantic.
  2. I don’t know what I don’t know.

    If there was an easy answer, I am smart enough to find it. If I haven’t solved it yet, it’s likely because there is something I can’t see or know due to a block or a barrier in my perspective.

    The only way to get a different perspective is to ask for help. Getting the minds and hearts of other people looking at whatever problem I’m facing helps me to see things I cannot possibly see.
  3. There’s always more than one way to see something.

    Often, it’s my limiting perspective that keeps me back from achieving what’s possible.

    For example, when I fear that people won’t want to invest in my services because of the recession, I’m looking from a position of scarcity. This scarcity mindset blocks my ability to the possibility that, for some, a recession is a perfect time to seek ways to make their organization suitable for people.

    My coach Kate Dowling pointed out this great point of view to me just this morning.
  4. Help helps.

    When I was hiding in my CEO role, alone, beating my head against the wall, I couldn’t help myself.

    When I hired an incredible team and not one but several coaches over the past five years, I felt the warm wash of support, help, and hope. The gift of different points of view and the experience and expertise of others has expanded what is possible and helped me determine what I need to do next.
  5. The antidote to fear is courage.

    Courage is being willing to let ourselves be seen, despite the risk. So, that has meant looking squarely and directly at the challenges I face in my business, the constraints inherent in our work, and from there, to grow solutions bravely.

    To be brave as a leader I have to be willing to look straight at the strengths and the weaknesses of myself, my team, my business model, etc.
  6. Going it alone is more expensive. Always.

    One of the barriers I’ve had to cross to get the help I need is how I think about money.

    I have told myself it’s too expensive to hire staff, a coach, or a consultant. But my thinking has been flawed. The truth is that it’s costly to go it alone. It costs me time, energy, personal health, and well-being.

    When looked at that way, the cost of investing in the help I need and being willing to raise my hand to say I need help is a valuable investment.
Me and my fantastic coach, Kate.