It’s a little like dating, except I don’t want to have your babies.
In all seriousness, the hardest part about asking for help is letting down our own facade that we have it all together. Newsflash #1: No one actually has it all together, at least not all of the time. Everyone has some metaphorical junk piled up in a corner somewhere. I could go on about the topic of striving for an image of perfection, a tidy home, not a hair out of place, but that is a topic for another time. To me perfection sounds boring and exhausting and lonely. Those people drain my life force. I’d much rather start with authenticity, that’s a gal I’d like to spend a few hours with… or perhaps this lifetime.
Newsflash #1: No one actually has it all together, at least not all of the time.Merwoman
“I know great women who are perfect inside and out. They seem strong, charming and courageous. But when we enter into soul talk mode, it comes to light what these women really think about themselves: ‘I have no talents’, ‘I’m too fat’, ‘I’m incapable of relationships'” says Literaa Poetry in Soul Talk: Find Your Inner Path. Even those incredibly inspiring people, the ones we idolize, have human insecurities and need help from time to time.
Let’s not call ourselves incomplete or lost or a hot mess, Let’s go for the curiously inviting label of “Lifetime Learner”. Let it roll off your tongue, “I’m a lifetime learner.” Doesn’t that have a nice ring to it? I understand we don’t want to reach out for help for fear of sounding desperate or needy but how about thinking of it as recognizing that you don’t know everything and would like to learn more. Just like excitement and nervousness are two sides of the very same coin depending on perspective, so are “lost and grasping for direction” and “curious and excited for what’s around the corner.”
Pause- If you are struggling with depression, anger, substances or other conditions that are detrimental to your being and possibly those around you, then by all means ask for help and quickly. Asking for help shows strength and there is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. Professional help exists for a reason and the sooner we engage help the sooner we can take the helm of our own lives.
Back to the quest for direction and purpose. In Tribal Inspiration: Finding Your Core Values I wrote about finding inspiration from our peers. Then, in Self Love: Finding The Ocean Within I dug into finding inspiration from within. Lifetime Learners are excited and curious. We are empowered to not only look within but to also recognize others whom we would like to learn from. “I admire what you are involved with and would love to learn more about you” completely changes the perspective when reaching out to a connection or even requesting an introduction. Simply put, it changes the focus from you to them.
Newsflash #2: Everyone loves talking about themselves. “In fact, we love it so much that it triggers the same sensation of pleasure in our brains as food and money do. Harvard neuroscientists have even said that it feels so rewarding, we can’t help but share our thoughts. This makes sense when you realize that talking about our own beliefs and opinions, rather than those of other people, stimulates the meso-limbic dopamine system, which is associated with the motivation and reward feelings we get from food, money and sex.” 5 Habits of Highly Effective Communicators So go ahead and ask someone you admire about themselves. Ask how they got into the field you are interested in. Ask whether this has always been their specialty. Ask whether anyone helped them along the way. Ask them how they knew they were onto something special.
Newsflash #2: Everyone loves talking about themselves.Merwoman
In addition, as far as I can remember, everyone I have ever been brave enough to ask for help or advice has been glad to do so. Perhaps someone has been tight on time or doubtful of their ability to assist in a particular area but no one has ever refused. “When you don’t ask for help when you need it, you assume all of a burden that might easily (and gladly) be shared. But you also deprive those who’d love to assist you of the opportunity to do so” Asking For Help Reveals Strength, Not Weakness. Newsflash #3: Consider that you asking for help may give someone else the opportunity to play the hero or benefactor.
Newsflash #3: Consider that you asking for help may give someone else the opportunity to play the hero or benefactor.Merwoman
When you get the ball rolling and so-and-so starts opening up about themselves, LISTEN. I cannot stress this enough. I know your inner fan-girl will want to break out into Beyoncé but hold on for just a little while longer. Listen because this is where the magic happens. This is when you learn, when you recognize coincidences and synergy, when light bulbs turn on.
There may be a few nuggets you connect with, maybe a lot, maybe nothing that resonates with you personally. A beautiful part of learning is that it doesn’t have to relate to your story in order to contribute to your growth… when it does, that’s just a bonus. Being genuinely excited to learn about someone is often enough to make a good impression and sometimes inspire that person, who likely had someone help them along the way, think about how they can help you. At the least that person will probably encourage you to “stay in touch” or “feel free to reach out if there’s any way they can help,” and honestly mean it. You may even surprise yourself and find a few people you really hit it off with .
Recently I’ve connected with:
- A firecracker of a businesswoman who stepped away from C-suite burnout and launched her own successful strategic consulting business. She was refreshingly candid about her burnout, about launching a business from scratch including trial and error, and the human struggles that we all face. She was eager to get to know me and brainstorm ideas. How lucky am I?
- A real life superhero whose career is carrying out her client’s end of life wishes and defending against those who attempt to take advantage or lay claim to what is not rightfully theirs. She too was warm, open, funny and very real especially about growing a business while also being a mother to young children. She was interested in learning about me as well and open to helping my cause.
Next in my sights:
- Another businesswoman who started her own engineering company, launched after stepping back to have her children and undergoing a professional pivot.
The really neat thing about asking for help in the empowered, curious way of a Lifetime Learner is that you will likely start having a lot of fun. Once you get started you’ll begin recognizing more and more incredible people you’d like to learn from, only limited by the reach of your own curiosity. Plus, you can ask just about anyone out, just be sure to pick up the tab for coffee or lunch, be genuine and show gratitude. Help is waiting for you as long as you have the courage to ask for it, why let ego stand in the way?
We all go through challenges — some you can see, most you can’t, saysMichele L. Sullivan.