Here's a skill set they don't often teach entrepreneurs: asking for help.
Maybe we want to do it all, or at least seem like we're doing it all. Maybe we don't want to impose, or be indebted to someone else. Or maybe our ego just has a hard time thinking someone else can do it better.
Whatever the reason, not asking for help or advice, and believing we can somehow do or know everything, prevents us from doing anything well. Not asking for help leads to distraction from what matters most, which means more time spent on low-priority things than on the things that actually move the needle and move us forward.
I'm so over it.
It didn't happen overnight but, as I've grown into my roles as both an entrepreneur and a parent, I see how crucial it is to ask for help. Here are three reasons why.
Asking for help deepens our interdependence. If I ask for help, I expect to return the gesture at some point. Contributing to that cycle enriches my role and my investment in various networks that I want very much to be part of. In addition, I've found that people want to help and feel useful. I know I do. And they are glad you asked, because it implies a certain amount of trust.
Guilt is a total downer. At a certain point, in the depths no doubt of Overwhelm or Exhaustion, I understood how deeply and variously guilt was holding me back. Feeling guilty about asking for help didn't leave enough time for the higher-profile, big-priority things that needed to get done if I was going to make noticeable progress. Once I made the internal decision to change that, the transition gained momentum quickly.
The P Word. Pride, that is. Want to be good at everything, or at least look as if you are? That's just pride talking. And it gets in the way, big time. Certainly there are a (very) few things that I do want to be exceptionally good at. Writing, for example, and making my kids' favorite snacks. For everything else, I'm glad to ask for help, and let someone else take the credit. There's enough to go around. I promise.
There's no 10-step process for getting better at asking for help. The lightbulb moments that led to my shift in thinking about it happened at unplanned moments, like 1:30 on a Tuesday afternoon when walking back from lunch.
It was useful, however, to have planted the seed in my mind to be aware of occasions when I could ask for help. Small things at first, like seeking advice on commission-based sales from people who are already successful in that area. Soon I was also looking for occasions when I could offer help, which led to the sea-change realization of interdependence (Number One, above), which got the whole thing rolling.
Have you had a lightbulb moment about the importance of asking for help? What was it, and how did it affect your working life?