I chuckle now as I look back on my collegiate career. Convinced that I was "too poor" to be able to afford to hire a band, a graphic designer, or a business manager, I learned how to do all those things myself. I took classes in business, law, graphic design, and music. My first album (recorded during my time in college) features no other instrumentalists. Every track was laid down electronically. I mixed my own vocals, designed my own cover. I did have a friend shoot the pictures, but that was only because he had a camera and was willing to help.
Can you imagine the comic nature of me trying to set up a shot, run around to the back of the camera, set a timer, and run into the shot again? Don't laugh. I found myself doing exactly that in a recent photo shoot for The Sweet Browns - a vocal group I'm working with locally. I think we ended up taking that shot 4 or 5 times before I got situated in time for the flash.
Why is it so bad to ask for help?
In my family, it somehow meant we're weak, that we can't do "it" on our own... whatever "it" happens to be. I grew up in a family of strong, independent women, and had a pretty stubborn lineage of men in my life as well. We simply didn't ask for help. The downside to all that independence is that you pass it on. I watch my boys (8 and almost 18) think they have to have it all figured out. That they simply can't ask for help. They either have to wait for it to be offered, or they have to struggle through the frustration on their own.
It's painful to watch, and even more painful to know that my husband and I modeled that behavior for them. For years, I didn't have a coach, or anyone to mentor me. I told myself I couldn't afford it, but I probably could have if I'd made it a priority (it's funny how that happens). No, the truth was I had judgments about me. If I had to ask for help, that meant I didn't know how to find the answers on my own. I didn't know something. That meant there as something wrong with me - at least that's what my learning addicted brain was trying to convince me.
You're not broken if you ask for help.
A funny thing happens when you ask for help. People show up. Helping others is a gift. I enjoy it every time I help a client make a breakthrough, or see my kid finally get a concept they'd struggled with for hours. The gifts of pride, pleasure, and being of service are no small gifts. They are HUGE. They give us the opportunity to contribute. To be of value to others.
We rob people of that gift every time we try to do it on our own.
Something else happens. You save time. Sometimes, you save a LOT of time. Saved time usually means saved energy, too. If there's one thing I can't stand, it's paperwork. Specifically data entry. The tedium of checking a receipt, entering it into the spreadsheet, and filing it away made me want to cry. Weekly data reports to keep tabs on my business always took me hours. It was frustrating, and that frustration trickled over into my family life.
When I was finally able to give up some of the data entry tasks in my business, my whole energy shifted. I was less cranky at home, the furrow in my brow loosened, and the time I had back was time I could dedicate to the 300 songs project, and enjoying my family. Plus, my VA is a whiz. She's faster at running that weekly report than I ever was. And she's a joy to work with.
So wait, I got to offload a task I detest to someone who does it with grace and a smile, which gives me more time to work on what I love? WIN!
Which brings me to the 300 songs project. Sure, I could plow through tunes on my own, but it's so much more "awesomer" when folks like Jen, Dave, Matt, The Sweet Browns, or Des and the rest of The Damn Whippersnappers come and help me out.
I hope I never have to do another song by myself. It's more fun when you've got friends along for the ride.
Letting others help allows you to share more YOU with the world.
We're about 10 days away from my next online concert. We're trying to raise enough money to purchase new studio lighting for the weekly videos (and a new project I'd like to launch). We need to sell 23 tickets in order to achieve that goal and cover our costs for the show.
I certainly can't buy all those tickets myself. What I can do is ask for help. I can ask Des to share the event on his facebook wall. I can share it on my own social media, I can send an email, and post it in my weekly newsletter... but that's still doing it by myself, mostly.
If I want to reach more people, I need to ask for help. So I will (more on that in a moment).
If your business is struggling, it could be because you're not asking for help.
In my years of hard-won experience (translation: I failed a LOT at this), I've learned that success comes more quickly when we ask for help. It's not a sign of weakness. It's actually a sign of strength to admit that even if you could do everything yourself (you can't), that you won't. It's a sign of strength to be able to focus on your strengths and let someone else handle what isn't in your genius zone.
When I meet an entrepreneur who's missing the mark in their business, the first thing I ask them about are their resources. The laundry list they feed back to me usually includes how much money they have, the products or services they offer, and any support/staff they have. Rarely do I hear mention of the network of people they know or could ask for help.
There's a difference between asking for help and being a sponge. We don't ask for help because we don't want to appear "needy" or "begging" - and most of the time that's not our situation. Sure, there's always someone in the group who never pays for everything and takes everything they can get for free without contributing to the good of the community. But opportunists don't read blogs like this. That's not you.
You're out in the world trying to make a difference. You've got something you really believe in, and you know the world could be a better place if more people knew about it. If anything, you're overgenerous - giving help to everyone.
Everyone, except yourself.
Sometimes help comes at a price.
Now we've come to it. Not all help is free. Sometimes, you have to pay for a class or a program. Sometimes you have to invest in travel, or pay a fee to get specific help. I gladly invest hundreds of dollars each month to work with one of my coaches. The number one excuse I hear from people about not getting help is because they "can't afford it."
Yes. Sometimes, there's an investment required. But it's not always about the money. Investments come in lots of different disguises. That's why I talk about profitability in a different way than most people. Sometimes the "cost" is an investment of your time, energy, or willingness to help.
One of my trusted advisers won't take my money. Instead, we help each other, because we both have a service the other needs. I also have a local mastermind group that meets a couple of times each month. My only investment is an occasional meal at a local restaurant, and the gas to get there. But the reward from connecting to like-minded women, all working to spread their message in the world, is beyond measure.
I've learned that the quality of the help isn't always reflected in the price tag, but you've got to be willing to pay the "price" for the help you get.
It could also be you're not asking for the right kind of help.
I'll be sharing a tool in the next few days with my subscribers to help them get clear on the kind of help they need so they can get moving (not on the list? There should be a form up top!). When you've got clarity on the kind of help you really need, it makes it easier to ask for it. But a quick way to know what you need is to... ask yourself.
Take a minute, right now. Sit quietly and take a few deep breaths. Connect to that small voice inside yourself that seems to really know you well. And just ask.
"Hey. I feel stuck right now. I need some help, but I'm not sure what. What help do I need right now?"
Then be silent and listen for what comes up.
Even if it sounds crazy. Honor it. If you don't understand it, ask for clarity. "What do you mean by that?" or "Is there anything else I need to know?" are great questions to help you get clarity from within.
The answers are already within you, but sometimes, you need help in executing them (tweet this).
Will you help me?
As I mentioned earlier, I'm on a mission of sorts to raise the money w need to upgrade our studio lighting. Rather than do a kickstarter campaign, I figured it would be WAY more fun (and faster) to do a live online concert. Des, my pianist extraordinaire, has agreed to come join me for an hour of storytelling, fun, and of course, MUSIC. The live event also features an interactive chat so you can connect with other viewers and send us questions or comments as well. We had a blast at our May show, and would love to have you join us in November!
You can pick up your ticket to our Nov 2 show here.
Even if you can't make it to the show, I hope you'll help us with our goal by sharing the event with people who might enjoy it. You can check out some of the tunes on youtube to get a taste for what we're all about. We've got a few new tunes you haven't yet seen from the 300 songs project, and everyone who registers will get access to a recording of the show highlights - so you won't miss out if you can't make it live.
Asking for help means showing gratitude.
Yep, this is the other piece that leaves people feeling wonky.
"I don't want to feel like I 'owe' anyone anything."
"Don't mention it. Ever."
Yet, in order for help to be fully received, it has to be acknowledged. Most people don't help others because they want something in return. Very often, a simple "thanks" is all that's required, and your "debt" is paid in full. And even if you're paying someone for the help, a little "thank you" goes a long way towards deepening your relationship with that person. Do you have to? No. You never have to say thank you. But would you want to be on the other end of that transaction? In fact, I believe that heartfelt thanks can transform a transaction into a blooming relationship.
Something to think about.
Have you ever struggled with asking for help? Have you found yourself offering help and not being appreciated? I'd love it if you shared your thoughts in the comments below. Let's help one another out.
And THANKS for reading! 🙂