In today’s post I want to touch on a theme that has been coming up again and again for me lately (probably because it is something I am notoriously bad at, and life has a clever way of making those themes glaringly obvious to me). It is just ask.
But first, a bit of background. For the most part, I would consider myself fiercely independent. I enjoy figuring things out of my own and finding a way to accomplish something given the knowledge that I have. Sometimes this means going the most wildly inefficient route, but hey, getting it done is getting it done. This independence is also why I believe so wholeheartedly in the idea of self-made success.
Given the amount of information that is available to us online these days, I truly believe that you can figure out how to do anything you put your mind to. As Marie Forleo is known to say,
Everything is figureoutable.
You do not need a degree or a certificate to deem you worthy of a title. You just need the imagination, the patience and the work ethic to master the skill of your choice. Without a lot of formal training in art or design, I was able to teach myself how to operate as a designer and an artist, and how to build a business around that skill set. That journey has definitely opened my eyes up to what I thought I was capable of. If I would just ask.
BUT, there is a small downside to operating on the belief that you can figure out anything you put your mind to. You sometimes forget that you do not always have to go it alone. When you spend so many years trying to teach yourself everything — searching page after page of Google for the right Photoshop tutorial, finding shots on Dribbble and trying to recreate them on your own for practice, reading blog posts into the early hours of the morning about how to start a creative business — you sometimes forget that not everything has to be learned the hard way. That there is a shortcut to figuring things out, and all it requires is a little humility. You forget that you can ask for help.
I am bad at asking for help for a number of reasons. Perhaps it is because I am an eternal learner and I actually find true joy in teaching myself things. Or maybe it stems from a place of self-doubt. Perhaps I am afraid that, if I ask for help, the person on the receiving end will think less of me or think I am an amateur. Perhaps I hold this irrational belief that if I do it all by myself that any success that follows will somehow mean a little less. Or perhaps that is all a bunch of B.S.
It is meaningless self-talk that protects me from having to be vulnerable. From having to let my guard down to another human being and say “Hey, I do not have it all figured out. Can you explain to me how you did xyz?” The funny thing about that self-talk especially is that when other people come to me for advice, I do not think less of them. I actually think more of them. Following my last newsletter a couple of weeks ago, I received a reply back from a member (who shall remain nameless) with this simple question:
Great email Rachel!
Question: How do you differentiate your content for your blog vs. your newsletter?
When I got that question, not a single part of me that was judging this person for their curiosity. Instead, I was actually excited to respond with my thought process and how I differentiate content. This person was giving me the opportunity to be helpful and it made me really happy. I have no doubt in my mind that this person will be successful. Why? Because they are not afraid to ask. I might be answering their questions, but I am really taking notes from them because I realized I need to give myself the permission to do the same.
Asking for help allows you to work smarter, not harder. The simple notion of asking goes for a lot more than just help or advice. My best friend has a mantra that she lives by day in and day out: You don’t get what you don’t ask for. That goes for a sponsorship, interview requests, money, that raise you have your eyes on, that email introduction…whatever it is, just ask. What are we all here for if not to help one another?
Will you join me in a challenge this week to reach out to one person for help?
- Ask a customer, coworker or your manager to teach you how they do xyz.
- Send an email to the blogger you admire and ask how they got their first 100 email subscribers.
- Ask a friend how they found the willpower to finally start working out regularly.
Whatever it is that you have been dying to know, just ask.