You are meant to have an optimal life, one that's happy, successful, abundant and of great contribution. My mission is to help you achieve that.
Independence is overrated. It’s indeed a good idea to help people transition from baby dependency to grown up independence. However, to really grow as a human being and to generate great contributions, we have to learn to be interdependent. We need to learn to ask for help. Being interdependent implies that
- You are good enough to help someone else: being brilliant
- You are vulnerable enough to ask and welcome help: being open to learn
When we were little children being brilliant and open to learn was obvious. Then we never doubt ourselves. We were fast, funny, intelligent, and more. We never doubted whether we would learn to walk or not. We kept trying again and again until we did it.
At some point with socialization comparison arrived and our brilliant version of ourselves got replaced by a wounded heart and a thick armor of apparent strength. We did our best to conceal our fragility, our fears of inadequacy and though it up.
I still remember my father telling me “Don’t crying. People will take advantage of you”. I believed him. So I not only stop crying, but I stop all together trusting anyone to be kind and compassionate. I built an image in my mind of a hostile humanity from which I needed to protect and defend myself. I know I’m not alone. Still today I hear parents giving that very advice to their children.
Does asking for help trigger the “not good enough” button?
You are not alone. This is a social phenomenon reinforced by different systems. Take the educational system. It is focused on what you did wrong and on your individual performance. Emotional literacy, team work, or communication are not as valuable as the individual performance in mathematics or chemistry. Teaching life skills to children is more the exception than the rule.
Think about the enormous praise that lone wolfs receive. Being a self-made man is actually a compliment. We glorify the lone rangers. We attach a sense of moral strength to being self-sufficient.
Self-sufficient is sexy
We want to be like them: self-sufficient. Vanity drives this desire. A sense of not good “enoughness” pushes us. We want to be great by ourselves. We need to prove ourselves to show our inner critic and “them” that we are good enough. “Them” are our imaginary audience. They are our parents, our teachers, our peers, our neighbors. I can tell you the old English saying is true: Those Who Mind Don’t Matter, and Those Who Matter Don’t Mind.
Of course I’ve been there. I tried to be self-sufficient. My “I don ‘t need anything from anyone” brought me to very dangerous places. You might remember my anorexia and near dead experience. You don’t need that kind of experience. You can start learning how to create the magical abundance and speed of reciprocity and trust.
What is in there for you in asking for help?
1. Building stronger bonds
Think that when you ask for help you give the other the opportunity to love you. If you don’t ask and accept help is just like accepting a gift from someone. Can you imagine that someone would reject a gift from you? You cannot do that to another person.
Years ago I understood this when I organized a big gathering at my place. I had cooked the whole week: marinated, baked, pealed, mashed, grilled, etc. It was a genuine fest. It was very clear how much work that was. One of the attendees was so touched by my gesture that she offered to clean the kitchen. My first reaction was NO! How could my guest clean my kitchen. A dear friend of mine explained to me: “this is her way of loving you back. Let her. Welcome it and be grateful”. I did. Our relationship grew closer from that moment on.
2. Helping helps the helper
Contributing to the development of others gives meaning to our life and happiness to our heart. When you ask for help you give an outlet for the growth of the helper.
The more your helpers have the opportunity to rehearse their trade, the more competent they will become.
When you give the opportunity to other to give their gift to the world, you will become a catalyst of happiness. You cannot imagine how happy I become when I’m ask to speak for any audience. I see how happy my hairdresser, my editor, my dentist and all my helpers are when they get another chance to shine their light for me.
3. Economic growth for everyone
When you outsource part of your work you improve the economy of other families. Imagine what that will generate in the future: a world where each one of us does work we love. We will all be happy, we’ll improve at what we love, we serve at our highest point of contribution. Start that cycle. Concentrate in what you are good at and empower others to do the very same: ask their help.
Outsourcing or delegating what you are not good at or dislike is one of the key differences between successful people and mediocre ones. Outsourcing helps you concentrate in the key activities that will make your impact and your contribution more valuable. This will generate focus and dramatic speed.
When we are able to concentrate in fewer tasks, the possibilities of stress will decrease and without all the associated illnesses. If not for any other reason, ask for help to have a healthy future.
6. Increased empathy when someone asks you
We need to stop perpetuating the culture of individualism and competition. We need to learn to cooperate, trust and co-create. When we work together we are stronger, happier and have more impact. Be more compassionate with yourself: ask for help. Be more compassionate with others: offer help before it’s asked.
How can you start asking for help?
I know it’s difficult to start asking for help when the old habit of self-sufficiency is very engrained. You need to unlearn it and acquire new skills. Here you have a couple of ideas on how you can get this working for you.
1. Offer help first
Start building a positive reputation. Help even those who haven’t helped you. You will be amazed of the positive spiral effect that this will have. You know, reciprocity is built in our make up as humans. Once you start giving, you’ll have a glow that will be so attractive to all the kindness and creativity of those around you. Help without expectations. Seed, seed, seed. Make it a life-long practice, step by step.
2. Know what you need
Review your objectives. Consider your short term and long term objectives. Make a list of all the actions and resources you need for each of them. Of course you’ll have more clarity for the short term ones. Still make a rough list of actions and resources for the long term. For each goal, ask yourself “what do I need to achieve this goal?”
Looking at each one of those answers, consider who could accelerate and ease those needs. Then make a high quality request.
3. Ask effectively
Many requests are impossible to answer as they are so poorly stated. To improve your results, your request must be,
- Inspiring: Share the big picture. Tell them where their piece fits in the hole project. Share your WHY.
- Outcome oriented (not process oriented): Be clear on what you expect to see as a result. Let them do their magic. The process is their business. Just concern yourself with the desired outcome.
- Unambiguous. Make your request clear. They need to understand which variables are important for you: delivery time, size, quality of materials, etc.
4. Don’t underestimate them
You don’t know what people know or how they can help you until you ask. Don’t prejudge your network. They are more powerful and kinder than you perceive them. Remember, even if they personally are unable to help you they have in their personal and professional network the solution you are looking for.
Now you know it!
Not asking for help is conceited and plain silly. While it could be the source of massive contribution, productivity and inspiration. Be open to ask and receive help. As a superhero in the making, make asking for and giving help a regular practice. Building a culture of reciprocity around you will accelerate a more human and humane economy.
Would you like to use these ideas to make your boldest dream a reality? I have something just perfect for you: A Better Me in 100 days program. During this program you will build the habits that will make sure that your most ambitious project is accomplished. You will not only be supported by the latest scientific knowledge on productivity, but also by a community of dreamers becoming superheroes. They embody this culture of reciprocity. In that micro cosmos we’ll challenge our definitions of limits and impossibilities. We’ll achieve greatness with immense joy, contribution and self-care. Read more here.
Do you want to do something magnificent with your one and precious life?
Now, I would love to hear from you.
I would love to hear your wisdom.
I'm sure there are more benefits and methods to ask for help. If you think of others, please do let us know.
Please, share your wisdom directly in the comments below. Let's start a wave of vibrancy, excitement, enthusiasm for life. Let's live fully!
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Identify how you can help someone and do it.
Ask for help 10 times this week. Start building the muscle.
Pay attention to whether the things I have described above happen.
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Make your week wonderful!