This may not be a comfortable read.
It SHOULD be.
But it likely won’t be.
It’s an invitation to come out of your comfort zone. Asking for help should be easy right? Yet it’s one of the hardest thing for most people to do.
Right now, we bet you’ve just caught yourself in a nod. Or you’ve squirmed in some way. Because usually, it’s something most of us avoid — like the proverbial plague!
It’s true for everyone, but speakers, authors and coaches are probably even worse at it! We think it’s because we are seen as the ‘go to’ people, and as such, we think asking for help is a sign of weakness. We make up that because we are usually on show centre stage, at the heart of attention, that we should know everything. And it stops us asking when we need to. And why is that?
We don’t ask for help because we don’t feel it’s safe to. We fear the judgement that follows more than anything. We shrink away and waste our time, trying to figure out how to do it by ourselves, because we don’t want to be seen as less than the image that others might have of us. We are afraid that if we ask for help, people will stop listening to us, stop seeing us in a positive light.
But trust us, you are not expected to have all the answers in life & to do it all by yourself. Not asking for help Is the least helpful thing for you to do if you want to grow your business or grow yourself.
Let’s start with 7 reasons why asking for help so important — just in case you’ve forgotten.
- It’ saves you time!
- It makes things less stressful
- Asking let’s you focus on what you know and what you do best
- It opens up learning for you and others
- It gives people a chance to connect with you in a human and authentic way
- It allows you to honour others’ experiences and knowledge
- It demonstrates humility and means you can role model that ‘staying in your lane’ is a key to doing more
Even as you read that list, you may well be thinking, that makes sense, it all seems logical and rational. You’re probably even adding some reasons to the list!
And yet, despite these, we STILL don’t ask for help!
Here are some of the reasons why we don’t:
- We secretly like the sense of achievement of working something out (however long it takes us)
- We don’t want to look stupid, so we struggle on alone
- We are stubborn or embarrassed
- We think we/the business can’t afford it financially
- We think we have to know it all & it shows weakness to ask
- We want others to love us and think we are perfect
- We think that people will stop respecting us
The worst thing about most of these reasons is what they have in common: — they are all based on judgment — and not the good kind.
They are us being mean to ourselves or at least not being good to our businesses. And as a result of this thinking and the not asking, we stress out, get overwhelmed and can’t even think what we need to ask for (resulting in the ‘no-one can help me’ syndrome and getting even more down!)
This is NOT a good cycle to be in.
The great news is that asking for help becomes easier the more you do it. Not all help is delivered in the same way, and you need to build your ‘asking muscles’ . AND because help comes in many forms, you can ease into asking for help and become more practiced at it, bit by bit, using the way that suits you best.
So what types of help are out there?
1) DIY help — Do It Yourself help
The hunt for knowledge — this is where we Google, do online courses, ask ‘how to’ questions in groups or forums. These are pretty easy for people to access as Google is anonymous, most FB groups or forums have opportunities to ask questions, so you’ve already been given permission and are in good company. Inside our FB group. we have a weekly “Curious Q&A” that allows just that. Look to be part of groups that have the knowledge you are looking for, and start to ‘learn as a lurker’ by just looking at what others ask around the subject matter you want to learn about.
2) DIWY — Do It With You help
This is where you ask for help and someone guides you along.
It’s often harder for people to ask for this, as they feel like they are inconveniencing people to help them. This can be paid or free. It’s about making sure that you learn as you do, and that you have a trusted guide along your way, that can support and help you and point you in the right direction.
Find somewhere that you can do or learn ‘alongside’ a smaller group of people who can work WITH you to show you what you need to know. We run regular Connect & Create Days to support people in a group because we find that there’s power in people being with like minded people who have similar issues. meet
3) DIFY — Do It For You help
This is where you completely outsource a task to someone. It could be picking your child up from school one day as you are working late, or for someone to review a piece of copy for you. It’s the most important one, because it really does mean that you have to ask and get ‘over yourself’! This is the one that most people really struggle with — and where the mind gremlins get in the way most. The key is to ensure that you FEEL you are not imposing and to not let any ‘impostor’ feelings get in the way.
So here are a few of our top tips to help you start shifting your mindset around asking for help:
Firstly be a giver.
If you are there for others & support them then your tank is full & you have ‘ask money’ in the bank. And it isn’t even about quid pro quo. Just being a giver shows up in all you do, so even if the person you want to ask for help is someone you’ve not helped, they are likely to want to help because of how you show up for others. The law of reciprocity is at work here. So go give. You’ll feel much more like you have the right to ask.
Secondly, don’t be lazy & don’t be an energy vampire.
There are many people who have no problem in asking for help even when they haven’t tried to work it out for themselves first! These people zap your energy, and are not people who anybody wants to help. So when you DO want to ask, understand and be ready to explain what you’ve already tried or done to get the answers you need. It shows willingness and is more likely to get people to say yes to helping you. It also helps them to give you the right help, and saves times for them too — as they can go straight to the piece you need. That again makes you feel like you are not imposing but instead helping them to help you.
Thirdly, get really clear on what you need help with.
It may sound obvious, but most people don’t take a step back to really consider what they need help with. If you’ve done step two already, you likely have that clarity. It will also help you feel like you know what you are asking for (and therefore not foolish or embarrassed to ask). It’s very frustrating for people to help when you’re not clear exactly what you need — so don’t waste everyone’s time and get specific!
Finally before we outline HOW to ask for help, clarify in your mind what you need help with and what area it’s in — that will help you identify WHO might have the knowledge and skills you need. We suggest making a list of things and areas you might need help with — all the things you don’t know about in-depth. To make your notes around these areas, use this simple formula: ‘what I know about / what I don’t know about’ to create a list of your current needs. This can usually help to figure out what to ask for first, most, or indeed what you feel most comfortable asking for first — a small ask flexes the muscle, remember!
To help you, we know that as a speaker, author or coach, you will likely have questions and things you don’t know about in the following areas:
- Marketing — where to show up, what your key messages are, whether to go online, where to network offline, how to get gigs, write your bio etc.
- Sales — how to convert people, make products, price your products, write proposals, improve your conversions, scale your business etc
- Operations — what to do around staff, any legal or technical processes, how to systemise or automate etc.
- Financial — how to outsource your bookkeeping, what you need to do to balance the books, how to set up your company for best profit, how to reconcile or automate your receipts etc
- People related — management of projects, getting the best out of people, how to communicate change, best ways to outsource etc.
And finally, we appreciate that because your asking muscles may be in need of some more flex or practise, we’ve laid it out here for you:
HOW to ask for help:
1) Get Clear — Clearly state the situation, identify the result, identify the gap, establish who might be able to help/ who has the knowledge, the skills and/or the attitude to get on with it(get really clear on what the issue is, what you are stuck on, what being done looks like — clear is not necessarily detailed)! — it’s you highlighting how things are NOW and how you would like them to be. The help needed is the GAP filled and the questions come out of how to do that.
2) Get out of your own way; It may actually be that you know HOW to do it something, but you don’t have the time. This does not give you permission to give the job out and then hover over a shoulder…. You need to delegate it and get on with what you couldn’t do if the other person is not doing it! This is especially true if you are paying for the help! Release your own expectation that you ‘should’ know how to do it, and LET others help you — they love doing this stuff, and it releases you to do what you love doing. Trust them to do it and to help you!
3) Get out of your own way — part two: It may also be that you get in your own way and stop yourself asking because of those fears we mentioned earlier on. If that’s the case, practise (even if it feels silly!) saying “I need your help” out loud a few times, and even write it down so it’s there in front of you when you reach out or pick up a phone!
4) Identify who can help — make a list of the things you need (see above) and then a list of those people that you know who can help. You may at this point realise that you don’t know who might be able to help — so then THAT becomes your ask — who do you know who can help me with X?
5) Ask! directly, politely, humbly (if you are asking for a favour), with curiosity or excitedly (focus on the end result), fumblingly — mostly — just ask!!! If anything write down the words and just read them out if you are someone that finds this really really hard!
6) ALLOW the help to come! Be prepared to say YES, when the help is offered. So many fall at this last hurdle. So do yourself and the person you are asking a favour. Say yes when they say yes! Have a “What else is possible?” attitude! Because you’ve just taken the first step to making a big difference to yourself and your business.
Now, if you are ever in overwhelm, here’s our summary recipe to asking for help:
1) Make a list of what you need / what is overwhelming you
2) Rate the need 1–10
3) Write a list of each person that can help you / has the skills
4) Pick one that feels safe, pick the biggest one, pick the smallest one, pick the one you 80% know the answer to, but pick one, then pick up the phone and then say the following words: “CAN YOU HELP ME WITH…. (fill in your need from your list)”
Congratulations, you’ve just helped someone else feel good!