Why it’s time to get over asking for help

Photo by  nikko macaspac  on  Unsplash

All of us have something that would be so much easier, so much better, so much more impactful, so much more…if we could just ask for help.

What is that one thing for you? What would be the impact on your life, your family, your career, or whatever else is important to you, if you could just ask for help with it?

So, why don’t you ask?

What’s stopping you?

What’s holding you back, if help could really make a difference, as soon as today?

If you’re anything like me and the high achieving leaders I work with, it’s a couple of things:

1. Unworthiness.

News flash: this is a made-up reason, created by you. It doesn’t exist.

Why wouldn’t you be worthy of help?

Is it because you’ve told yourself that somehow, someone, somewhere is keeping score? That these whoever-they-are, are determining that you can do some things, but not other things, and you’d better not get too full of yourself to think that you could do something truly magical?

If that’s it, please: point out to me who is keeping score. Who is limiting you, except for yourself? Who is shaming you about asking for help?

2. I can’t ask for help because I’d be bothering people. I don’t want to be a burden.

This is another false premise.

Here’s the thing: people don’t do what they don’t want to do.

Even if they feel obligated, they still make a choice, and they don’t have to make that choice to do that thing. You’re certainly not burdening anyone with the asking. The choice is theirs to help or not. Always. Which means there’s no harm in asking for help, because now you know that if someone decides to help, it was their choice to do so. If they don’t like the result of their choice to help, the choice was still theirs. You’re not responsible for their choice. But, do keep in mind that if you accept their help, you accept their choice…which also means you can (and usually it helps to) express gratitude and appreciation, and make it a rewarding experience.

3. People won’t want to help. (Or, they won’t want to help me).

This is also questionable. Think about it. Are you a person who generally wants to help, especially people you value and trust?

OK, so if the answer is yes, doesn’t it make sense that just like you, other people also generally want to help, especially people they value and trust?

If you ask strangers and the people you know, you’ll find that the majority of people do actually want to help. Especially people like you, who are who you are and who are doing the things you’re doing. You’re pretty nice, actually. If you still aren’t convinced, you can always look for a reason they will want to help.

Plus, when you help someone, how does it feel? Most people get a good feeling from helping. So that’s a payoff for them, that you’re probably not thinking about. They feel rewarded in knowing they are doing good for or by someone like you.

So when you ask for help, it shows up (sometimes even bigger than what you’d asked for) and then you don’t accept it, you are downplaying or thwarting the gift of help you’ve actually asked for. You’re dismissing their interest in helping contribute to you, which is a waste. Please accept help once it’s offered! (If it’s bigger than what you intended and it’s really far off from your vision, that’s a conversation). But remember, accepting makes them feel good and you feel good. Win-win.

4. I have to do this alone.

Good luck with that. Because nearly everything you are engaged in is a collaboration or partnership. There are invisible hands everywhere, that helped and help to create everything around us. Take a look around. You’ve never made a phone call, driven (in) a car on a street, walked on sidewalks, explored hiking trails, used a computer, etc etc etc, without other people.

Which means you’re not as independent as you think you are. Other than creating the thought that you have to do things alone (thinking is a solo act), when was the last time you accomplished something truly on your own?

And what’s the downside to allowing yourself to be contributed to? It really speeds things up and makes things more efficient. Because working with others provides you with access to a world of new (perhaps even better) ideas, networks of people who likely know a lot of things you don’t know (that perhaps you don’t want to know and don’t want to spend time getting to know), who believe in your idea or initiative or who simply want to be useful. It gives you a team. And teamwork makes the dream work.

Also, asking for help yields results! Working with others also helps ramp up your impact. Think of what is available now because people worked together to create infrastructure and holding places to collect knowledge, like the schools and institutions of higher education, the public library, the Internet, Google and YouTube, chambers of commerce, aviation, shipping, grocery stores, families, the United States, television…the list goes on. There are also whole systems that exist solely to help people, like GoFundMe or Kickstarter, the Jerry Lewis Telathon, etc. 

None of these would exist without people asking for help, and we use them without thinking about it. Just remember that next time you look at the news…if you had to source your own headlines, news and weather in addition to whatever else you’re up to, you wouldn’t get very much done during the day. It’s just more efficient.

5. They might say no.

OK, let’s look back and observe the number of choices you’re already made today. What to wear? Did you say no to a pair of shoes? Did they get hurt? Did you turn down toast for breakfast in favor of yogurt? Did you go this way instead of that way to get where you needed to be? Did you go for coffee, then turn your computer on, or something else? And what happened as a result of those choices?

The truth is, even though you may not realize it, every choice means saying yes to something and no to something else. You do it all day, every day, without thinking. So does everyone else.

So when it comes to asking for help, why do you get emotionally involved with what the answer might be? If a no comes back when you ask for something, what’s the worst that can happen? Are you going to take it personally? (By the way, taking something personally is a choice you make, it’s you saying yes to that rather than yes to something else). Can you be OK with no? Could you even push the boundaries of your comfort zone on purpose? Could you play with how radically you’re willing to be in asking for help?

Give it a try. Help isn’t just for people who are drowning.

Truthfully, we get very little accomplished without help. There aren’t downsides to asking and receiving help, as far as I can see, except for moving things along a lot more slowly, or not accomplishing big things…which is probably not what you’re going for.

In the end, your thinking is yours. You create it, you own it. You can choose to keep going, not asking for help and possibly missing out on the best stuff of your life, that you didn’t know could exist because you were afraid or too “unworthy” to ask. Just know that the only person limiting you and your possibilities is you.

So, if you’re inspired to be big, create big, live big, and also help others be/create/do/live big, you’ll need to ask for help. So what’s the help you will ask for today?

Click here to watch Marte’s video about this topic, part of her IGTV series.