How asking for help not only makes you a better person, it makes you a better leader
When the courage to ask gives you the courage to lead
I have always struggled with the idea of asking for help. Not only because I like to (or used to) think of myself as fiercely independent, but because I struggle to distinguish when is it necessary. I have a problem to discern when I am on the road to overwhelm, so stop piling on, and when will I be able to handle everything with ease and grace. And by the time I know the answer, it is too late. Mix that up with a very strong sense of “I can do it better” and you have a recipe for disaster. I seldom ask for (or used to seldom) help, and that means I seldom get it.
Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. This I have known for ages, sure you have also come upon this nugget. Yet we still feel incapable of reaching out and admitting that we, maybe, cannot do this alone. Why is it that we easily offer and give help to others, but asking for ourselves seems to be the taboo? And why do we see ourselves as less capable when asking?
This mental block on asking for help, in my opinion, stems from two very strong emotions. I am generalising now, badly I know, but this way I can at least keep the post on the shorter side. Most people do not ask for help as a result of pride and humility, and often the one will strengthen the other. We don’t ask because our pride tells us we are stronger, we can do anything, and we will, in any case, do it better. Our humility whispers “who am I to ask for help? What have I done to deserve it”? Pride will also stand in the way of acknowledging the humility, making us feel even smaller while acting bigger.
In my case, I am prone to taking on more than the average person. Usually, the people in my life will encourage me to do so, with the promise of jumping in to help whenever I need them. So I will accept and take on more responsibility. Then when I need the help, I will be too far gone to ask, or convinced that giving it to someone else will just mean me having to re-do it later, I will push ahead and do it myself. Usually, this will mean not focussing 100% and mucking up in anyway. And then who do I blame it on? The people in my life! Somehow it then becomes their fault for not helping me in the first place… vicious circle, one that I am luckily now aware of. Asking for help is tough, but we need to get over that hurdle so that we can bless ourselves, and bless others as well.
When we ask for help we are allowing someone else to step up, to show up and to shine. Giving someone else the chance to rise to their strengths, even if it just means being strong for you. Instead of thinking of asking as taking, you should rather think of asking as giving – giving someone else the power to grow and be more. The experts say the best leaders are those who know how to ask for help – not something I always agreed with until I read this:
Leaders who are aware, conscious, continuously growing personally and professionally, and who courageously ask for and openly receive support are stronger.
When you ask for support, you maintain focus and energy as the task is shared with others. You create more FLOW making the journey fun and easy.
When you ask for support, you create opportunities for others to share their gifts and talents. You empower others to shine, and you learn more about others’ strengths and passions.
When you ask for support, you allow others to experience the happiness that comes from giving. When we give or receive a gift, we release oxytocin, a powerful bond-stimulating hormone.
When you ask for support, you are trusting in others, which strengthens the trust between you and your supporters.
When you ask for support, you are stating that you are imperfect just like everyone else and others will relate to you. No one is perfect and everyone has room to grow.
There is strength in being vulnerable, in being human. We were designed to co-create life-changing experiences together.
You need to remind yourself that asking for help doesn’t make you weak. It makes you strong enough to admit to not having all the answers, that you are facing difficult and uncomfortable emotions such as humility, embarrassment and fear, and that you are willing to be vulnerable. Asking for help develops the mental muscle needed to make you mentally stronger. Over time, asking will become easier until it becomes almost natural. The more you ask, the better your support network, and that will enable you to take on bigger challenges, with or without help.
Let me leave you with these words:
Who are you going to ask for help? And where can you help someone else?
If this post resonated with you, please share that with us. We all need a bit of encouragement from time to time.