Why is it so hard to ask for help? A chance encounter with a stranger leads Fiona Blayney to reflect on the wisdom of admitting when things are getting too much.
I once received an email that shot me into an instant energy boost for the day. It started with, “Wow! I wish I had hooked up with you a long time ago” and continued with words like ‘eye opener’ and ‘liberating’ – and yes, I am talking about work.
In that context you’d be forgiven for taking this as little more than a beating of my chest, but it is so much more than that. It is a reflection of a moment in time when the light went on; someone had reached out to talk about goals, dreams and current reality, only to be met with the possibilities of today and the realisation that the desires of tomorrow were accessible. My new client had asked for help, been authentic about goals and together we had identified the ‘reality of life’ and the ‘true’ path to success.
I wonder what life would have looked like for my new friend had they continued to make the decision that they didn’t need help, that they could do it on their own? Why do so many of us struggle to ask for help, in business and in our personal lives?
During one of my many cab rides home from the airport recently, and in what became an all too familiar couch session with my friendly cabbie, we unpacked the challenges of his family life: a sick wife, disengaged children and his desperate unhappiness. He was at the end of his tether. “Thank you for listening. I’m sorry to discuss this with you. I really shouldn’t have,” he said, clearly shocked at where our drive home had ended up. “I just don’t have anyone to talk to about it all, and perhaps it’s easier to speak with you given we are strangers.”
As he was clearly lost and embarrassed, I congratulated him on our conversation, thanked him for sharing his life with me for that moment and encouraged him to keep doing it. We even chatted about why people don’t speak more openly. Culture, fear, judgement; it’s just not the done thing.
Perhaps it is something that has been drilled into us since birth, manifested through childhood and then blossomed into our adult life. Do we see speaking up or asking for help as failing? I’m sure anyone who has asked for help would agree that more often than not it makes achieving goals, completing projects or persevering through life’s many challenges so much easier.
My mind, over the years, has become the most incredible vault of information, secrets, fears, goals, dreams and ambitions that we are so fearful to discuss. I am constantly blessed, through the coaching in my business life and the discussions in my personal one, to know that we all have the same challenges – including thinking we all don’t have the same challenges. We are all vulnerable and embarrassed to discuss our world, yet I see how liberating it can be when we do.
I too have a vault of fears, goals, dreams and ambitions. I make mistakes and I often don’t know the right answer. But every day I work really hard at communicating them to that group of people around me who are keen to help me succeed and I reach out to them for help, support, and guidance.
Stop and think about the challenges you have right now. Take a look; there are people around you – some with the same challenges, others with the answers to them. Perhaps it’s time to put your hand up, reach out and tap into the abundance of knowledge ready to be shared by a world full of authentic people who want you to succeed at having the best life possible.