Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Asking for Help is Tougher than Admitting We Need It

My line of work these days is to answer the call for help from professionals at law and accounting firms -- I become their marketing and business development coach. I have found in short order that professionals can talk a lot about what they would like to accomplish, will admit they don't know enough yet to get there, but bite their tongue when it is time to ask for help.

I believe this happens because asking for help is a greater assault on feelings of self-worth than to fail while trying on our own. Are we setup internally to fear the perceived judgement of others more than complete failure to achieve?

Jerry Seinfeld, in one of his comedy bits, quotes a study that revealed people are more afraid of speaking in front of an audience than death. As he puts it, "People would rather be in the coffin than delivering the eulogy." Man! Do we hate being judged by others or what?

If you find yourself in a situation you are not yet equipped to handle (like knowing how to build your book of business or break through to a better place in your life or career) let me offer a few thoughts that may strengthen your ability to ask for help:
  • Consider the path you are on -- are you finally lost enough and strong enough to stop and ask for a map?
  • If you fail, how many other people are affected by your actions? Your family? Your circle of friends? The circle of professionals you've developed?
  • Make a list of what you might gain if you asked for help, and a list of what you will have if you continue to keep slugging away on your own ("maintaining your pride" does not belong on the latter).
  • Talk to people you consider to be highly successful and ask if they have a coach or mentor. Most of them do. World leaders, President's and Senator's have them. Industry icons have them. And you...?
  • Ask yourself -- would having a coach and mentor make me weaker or do I gain a HUGE leg up on anyone that considers me their competition?
  • What if no one knew but secretly I had access to an incredible resource?
  • Lastly, consider yourself already a great success with incredible resources at your beck and call. In this roll would you not take pride in knowing you have additions to the cadre of advisers that serve you?
Look, none of us are born or trained with all knowledge. We work to become really good at certain things and yet new challenges arrive. There is no point that we know so much we cannot learn anything more (at least I admit this for myself). I encourage you to always seek what you need if you cannot help yourself -- your self-worth will escalate in leaps and bounds.