I struggle to do it. I don't ask often or early enough most of the time. But this week I got into a conversation with my coach about why I don't ask for help.
Turns out the answer is complex. I'm male and most of my life I have been told explicitly and implicitly that asking for help is a sign of weakness, an admission of not being (insert the applicable adjective here) enough. In my career, I've even experienced times when I have asked for help and it has been used against me at a later point, reinforcing the idea that I shouldn't ask for help. Being vulnerable is dangerous and asking for help makes one vulnerable. I spoke about the "why" for several minutes and then my coach asked one of those simple but epiphany creating questions, what, she asked, are the benefits of asking for help? Slowly I began to list them each benefit giving me pause for thought (and my coach gets a mention for sublime use of silence in this part of our conversation)
You learn more and get better as you learn from the help Listen to Denise Fay speak about asking for help
You strengthen your relationships
You curate your network based on who does and doesn't help
Helping you might even help the person helping you...
And that changed my world. The question reframed the picture and lifted me out of the "set in my ways" view of asking for help. My coach and I agreed a plan to start to ask for help more and agreed about this being an ongoing theme for subsequent conversations. In a world of instant experts and platforms full of wisdom and insight, I'm interested in how you ask for help and what forms your requests for help take. Yes I'm asking for your help - how do you ask for help? or if not, why not? Heidi Grant knows how to ask... And shares that insight in this Ted talk