There is a widely held belief that if you want something done right, you and you alone must do it. This feeds into the romantic notion that one person can rise above the noise and build success with only their two bare hands. The idea is that we are lone travelers, overcoming obstacles with only our own wits and willpower. And to this I say…what a waste of effort and time. I don’t know about you, but I’m getting some help!
No one becomes a success without help. No one.
Think about all the successes you know in your life. Then look at the support system in place that assists in that success. It may not be obvious for some, but they all get help somewhere, somehow. A great basketball player like Michael Jordan didn’t win championships until Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman and Horace Grant showed up. You should get help too. Negative thinking says you can’t do everything. It doesn’t say you can’t do anything; rather it focuses a bit of reality on every situation. Learning to ask for help is one of the biggest steps towards success you can take.
But how do you ask for help? It’s not something we do readily, admitting our deficiencies. If you can get past that ego driven nonsense and look at what your needs really are, asking for help can be very easy.
Ask others if they need help. You have to give to get. The old saying “you have to spend money, to make money” works with help too. You need to be helpful, if you want people to return the favor. So ask people if you can help them. Be sure that the help you offer is something you can help with; otherwise you could just compound the problem. If you can’t help that person, refer them to someone who can. Ironically enough, that alone is very helpful!
Be clear on what you need. This is the tricky part. You need to explain to the person willing to help exactly what you need. Even if you don’t know what you need, at least tell them the outcome you want. By clearly defining your outcomes, they can get to the heart of the matter, saving time and frustration. Sometimes, explaining what you are doing now will allow your helper to see the problems that are obstructing your path to success. It’s just like the plumber asking what you put in the disposal that caused the clog. This way he knows which tools he needs to fix it.
Be grateful. I can’t say this enough. If someone goes out of their way to help, be thankful. Show your gratitude. People are more apt to help you again if you reward them with sincere “thank you” or show of appreciation.
Asking for help is not a weakness. It is the sign of a person who is confident, understands what needs to be done, and yet also understands their own limitations. It shows you value others opinions and expertise. It also shows you that you know how to get things done…even if you’re not the one who knows how to get those things done yourself.
It’s a tough and sometimes unforgiving world out there. Trying to stubbornly plow ahead on your own isn’t a sign of strength. It’s not a sign of superior intellect. It’s just plain ego. Ego is not a bad thing, but if you’re going to sabotage yourself simply because you are trying to be the person with “the answer”, that tough world is going to get a lot tougher. However, if you’re willing to ask for and accept help, the world isn’t much of a problem at all.