I’m not good at asking for help.
This realization recently came crashing down on me when I started working on the marketing launch of my upcoming book (*insert shameless plug for Swagger: Unleash Everything You Are and Become Everything You Want coming May 2021). In order to make this book a success, I knew was going to going to have to ask for help big time. Help with endorsements, reviews, recommendations, sharing and so much more. I was going to have to ask this of many busy, prominent, in demand, and often very fancy people. Ironically, considering the subject matter of the book in question, I was dreading it.
Why? Because I was afraid of being disappointed.
That’s just one of the many reasons why we fear asking for help. Others include looking incompetent, weak, vulnerable or needy, or being in debt to others. These fears all qualify as major swagger suckers and need to be faced down STAT. Because each and every one of us is going to need to send out an SOS at some point.
So, I’m offering a little help on shattering the myths around asking for a hand. (See what I did there?)
Myth #1: Asking for help reveals my incompetence
This one’s a massive lie we tell ourselves. Here’s the real truth on that bullshit. Incompetent people rarely ask for help because they don’t think they need it. If they did ask, they wouldn’t stay incompetent! The smartest people know exactly where they currently are in their journey to greatness and happily aspire to learning ALL the things, all the time. How else could they possibly improve at anything? Trust me — ‘fake it ’til you make it’ does not work. The only thing that breeds real confidence is competence. Thus, if you refuse to ask for help from all of the brilliant people around you, you’ll simply remain stuck in your paralyzing incompetence zone. My advice is to find the most competent person you know and respectfully ask to sit at their feet and catch all the wisdom that spills from their mouths. Celebrate their generosity, tell everyone you know of their kindness and then pay it forward. In the end, everyone will be better for it. Double win.
Myth #2: Only weak people ask for help
Again, the opposite is true. One of the fundamental tenets of swagger is embracing our messy, human truth. Through that, we are badass by definition! It takes humility, strength, honesty and integrity to genuinely ask for help. Just ask anyone who has ever been in crisis. The moment they ask for help is the moment everything can begin to change. It’s the weak people who are afraid of the hard work they’ll have to do once they’ve asked for help. The strong know that we need a village in order to succeed. Remember, you’re not looking for a handout, you’re asking for a hand up.
Myth #3: Asking for help makes me vulnerable and needy
If you’re surrounding by sociopaths, this may be true. But the average human responds incredibly well to the vulnerability of others because it reminds them of their own. This is what creates real human connection. Our natural instinct is to protect, not prey on. It’s more than OK to allow others to want to protect you every once in a while. It makes them feel good and powerful and shows them who they can go to for protection in the future. Plus, bonus points, it lets them see you for the persona you really are, which frees you from having to walk around with your heavy coat of persona for a change. Ain’t THAT a relief!
Myth #4: Asking for help puts me in debt to others
Yup. It sure does. But of course, it will always be your choice as to whether you want to pay it back or forward. Here’s the secret; when you help others, it’s like making deposits into the universal bank of kindness. Once you’ve made enough deposits, you can start making withdrawals. You’ll be amazed at how efficient this bank is. Its terms and conditions are pretty straightforward too. Help others unconditionally, expect nothing in return, and be grateful as hell when you get something back. I guarantee that you will. You’ll only ever be ‘in debt’ if you’ve haven’t made any deposits, so you better get on that — today!
Myth #5: Asking for help will set me up for disappointment
This is the one that got me. I mean, how could I expect anyone to make my needs their priority? I didn’t want to run the risk of asking for help, have it refused and then see that person differently forever. Isn’t it just better to be self-sufficient and not burden anyone else? Ummm — nope. This is just the story I was telling myself. Truth is, if you’ve paid into the bank, help will come your way. And if people can’t or won’t respond to your call, it’s OK to be a little disappointed. But keep in mind that the likelihood is they’ve got stuff going on in their own lives that’s taking priority. It’s really not about you. I don’t know anyone who likes having to turn down a request for help, because helping makes us feel good. So have some compassion, move on to the next person and keep paying into the bank.
There you have it. Five myths shattered and a world of support just waiting for you to tap into it. And in the spirit of the post, I’m going to ask all of YOU for some help!
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See? Wasn’t that simple? And didn’t it feel good?!
Leslie Ehm is a Swagger coach, speaker, and author of Swagger: Unleash Everything You Are and Become Everything You Want (May 2021)