What Resonated This Week: Finding The Courage to Ask For Help

This is the third installment of "What Resonated This Week," where I share my observations around a common theme or topic that made an impact on me, and hopefully will be a catalyst for conversation and further discussion. Suggestions for future topics are always welcome; just reply in the comments section below.

For the last two weeks I've published posts about what's resonated with me. Connecting the dots was the initial theme, followed by the idea that you need to customize your message and be mindful of your audience.

This week, I went back and forth with a few topics but ultimately landed on something deeply personal: finding the courage to ask for help.

Help. It's probably the hardest four-letter word to say.

In a society where confidence rules, it can be tough to let the world know you need assistance. Especially if the thought of asking for help terrifies you. Even more so if you feel like you're "less than" for doing so. A failure. A loser. Alone.

Case in point: our young daughter, who is a perfectionist and is extremely hard on herself. We are supportive of her, and try to explain that our expectations are simply that she tries her best and that that's enough. She is competitive and excels in school and sports, yet the thought of raising her hand in class to ask a question seems impossible. Her body goes into flight or fight mode, adrenaline rushing, heart pounding, palms sweating. Ironically, every teacher she's ever has made note of her compassion nature, and praising her for helping other students in need. To the outside world she seems outgoing and confident, but that's where appearances can be deceiving.

It's becoming clear to us that she's suffering a great deal of anxiety in her quest to do well without asking for help. She's internalizing. And that anxiety has increased exponentially. It's manifesting itself in various behaviors, to the point that she feels out of control. She needs help. And last night, through tears, she found the courage to ask for it, which I know was very difficult for her to do. But after that courageous act, she immediately began to feel better and more relaxed. And help is definitely on the way.

On a completely different note, this week I've had conversations with three different people who reached out and asked me for help. In these instances, the help took the form of business/career advice, which I willingly and happily supplied. They thanked me and left our meetings feeling better than when we started. Relieved, even. Like a weight had been lifted.

At some point in our careers, we've probably all felt that nervous-sick feeling before picking up the phone or sending an email to a colleague, asking for help. We wondered if they would think we were weak, a nuisance for asking, or worse, ignore us, which would leave us feeling completely deflated.

Why is so hard to ask for help?

I've been on both sides of this equation, and I can attest to heart-wrenching, soul-crushing feeling that can accompany some situations. Addiction, affliction, and disease are extreme examples, but even asking for help with a seemingly easy office task can be blow to your ego. It can be tough to admit that we don't know it all, especially if we feel like everyone expects us to have all the answers. Sound familiar?

What can you do?

First, try to be of service to others that might need your help. And — this is important — don't wait to be asked for help. Check in with your kids, your colleagues, and your neighbors to get hints about what they're working on or dealing with and let them know that you're here for them. And if they actually find the courage to ask you for help? Take action and see what you or someone you know can do to assist them.

Second, don't be afraid to ask for help yourself. I'll admit this is a tough one for me. I want to be the rock for everyone around me, but I remind myself that even a rock can crumble to bits. There is no shame in asking for help. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness; it's a sign of strength. Remember that everyone needs some form of help at some time, and getting into the practice of asking for help becomes easier over time.

So, what resonated with you this week? And, more importantly, how can I help you?

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