Do you find it hard to ask for help?
Many smart people, especially women, are more comfortable offering or providing assistance than they are receiving and accepting it.
Four Common Reasons Smart People Don’t Ask for Help
In reflecting on many conversations I’ve had with my clients over the years, I believe there are four common reasons talented individuals are afraid to ask for help:
- They feel it makes them look weak, vulnerable, disorganized, or clueless.
- They don’t want to burden anyone.
- They believe they should be able to do figure things out on our own.
- If they’d asked for help in the past, they may not have been satisfied with the results.
Two Less-Known Reasons Smart People Don’t Ask for Help
Two additional reasons smart people don’t seek out help stem from them not realizing they need it. That’s understandable; you can’t know what you don’t know.
I illustrate each reason below, using myself as an example:
- Though people experience the problem’s symptoms, they may not know its root. I recently discovered that my waistline was growing even though I exercise somewhat regularly. So I tried to focus on what I eat. I didn’t see any improvement, which disheartened me further. My mother and friends told me it was probably because I am aging. Then, during a visit to my doctor, I found out I have uterine fibroids that had grown so large, it was as if I was four months’ pregnant! While there are surgical options, my doctor and I have decided that the best thing to do for now is to keep an eye on the fibroids. This changed how I felt about my body. I was actually grateful that the fibroids—as large as they were—had not harmed my health or interfered with my everyday life as they can often do. I continued to exercise and eat right, knowing that these fostered my overall health. As a result, I feel better about my workouts and eating habits and, most important, no longer feel like a failure.
- Unless people have experienced it firsthand, they may not feel the full impact of receiving help or understand how it can spread positively into other aspects of their life. Since I founded Life Junctions, I’ve been good about keeping track of key information about my business. As a researcher, I knew I had the skills to review the data on my own. But here’s the thing: though I knew I “should,” I never found the time to sit down and do it. So on the advice of a mentor, I hired a consultant to help me. The key questions he posed forced me to look at my data systematically. While I’m still deep in the process, I can already see that I’d made some false assumptions about my business. By working with the consultant, I’m learning what to invest my time in and what I can ignore. I feel not only more efficient but more confident!
My clients experience this, too.
They sometimes find that what they initially hired me for isn’t what they had really wanted or needed:
- Many clients hire me to help them find a different job. As we work together, they realize that what they’ve been doing isn’t so bad after all. In fact, with some tweaking at home or the office, their work situation can feel a lot more satisfying.
- Similarly, a number of stay-at-home moms hire me to help them reenter the workforce. Shortly thereafter, some realize that their circumstances make it difficult to be employed. So we work on other projects or endeavors that use, say, a different side of their brain than the one required to care for children. Or I help them apply their expertise in more satisfying ways that fit their schedule.
My clients sometimes gain benefits they couldn’t have previously imagined:
- Clients who are able to vent safely and confidentially about someone or something that has been bothering them are able to see the situation in a new light. They may have blamed themselves for that situation, not realizing how the self-blame was eating them up inside.
- I’ve been able to point out my clients’ special talents that they’d taken for granted or hadn’t realized they had. With that self-awareness, they are able to use their “secret weapon” in new situations and feel more confident.
- I often summarize relevant information from research studies for my clients. They feel energized when they can use that information to try out a tactic or approach they hadn’t thought of before. Moreover, they enjoy seeing how the information works and making it their own.
So what are you waiting for? Ask for help and find out what you may be missing.