So I usually don’t get personal and touchy-feely on this very business-y, snarky, and super wise blog. But I’m finishing up a 90-Day stint with my peer coaching “circle” with Savor the Success and I’m in a reflective kind of mood. Also, it’s still the beginning of the year, so I’m considering milestones from last year to inform my business strategy for 2018.
Plus, I like to list the things that I’ve learned more than I like to create new goals. Both are important, but actually learning and embodying the knowledge of the big lessons in business and in life are crucial to deciding what to learn next.
My list from 2017 is less of a list and more of a single declaration, though: Ask for help.
You can read self-help books, spirituality books, business books, superwoman and superman books. You can learn from business and life coaches. But if you really pay attention, a lot of the same stuff rings true. You hear it over and over again: Ask for help. And receive help gracefully.
The real power of Give. Give. Get.
The Savor mantra, which I love, is Give. Give. Get.
I like to give generously when I can—and I do—and I know that there is a giving back, as I have received. The problem is, because I am a chronic giver, I have the tendency to NOT receive real well, if I’m not working on it.
I prefer to give. It makes me feel important, powerful, stronger than I am perhaps. But if receiving is a problem, then my giving is out of control, and it took me until pretty recently to realize it.
I’d suggest that most people (especially many women-type people) are chronic over-givers. Martyrdom is a serious problem for humans. We like to think that we are going to “get back” when we give. And no matter how much we tell ourselves we are giving and letting go, there’s still that little piece of us that suggests the universe or the business world or our families or our partners OWE US.
“An eye for an eye” and all that. But…that’s not how this works. That’s not how any of this works.
When the “getting” doesn’t happen, people like me (and there are tons of us out there—shout out to the chronic over-givers of the world!) SHUT DOWN. We get frustrated. Clarity declines and there is a tendency to wallow in the misery of “it’s not fair.” Meanwhile, most of the time, if I would have just hung on for about 5 more minutes before falling into the depths of despair and railing against the universe for its tragic injustice, I would have seen the benefit of my efforts in giving.
And this is how I understand the real power of Give. Give. Get. In order to reap the benefits of what we give to the world, we have to be open to receiving—whatever that means.
Because it’s not a simple thing to do! Hand-in-hand with martyrdom often comes passive aggression and being passive-aggressive is a terrible, cowardly way of relating to people.
How often do you want people to just know what you want?
How often do you expect people to just read your mind, figure you out, and give you what you need when you need it?
And how’s that working out for you?
From passive aggression to confident assertion.
In the business world, this approach is an absolute killer.
Successful people are decidedly not passive-aggressive. Success comes from an unfailing faith in yourself and the confidence of knowing that nothing can get in your way. Their confidence becomes a beautiful, contagious source of energy and elevation. We trust people who are confident. We question people who are passive-aggressive.
You know what else success does for you? It gives you the confidence to ask for help. Asking for what we need from the world, rather than giving in the hopes that we’ll get the same in return, is turning passive aggression into confident assertion.
And it all comes back to learning how to gracefully ask and receive.
When you are strong and respected, when you create bright boundaries, when you inspire and motivate people because you are amazing in your amazingness, people want so badly to help. They want to participate, they want to play a role in lifting you up and in contributing to your greatness.
Chronic givers tend to be better at seeing exactly what others want, swooping in at the exact right moment to give it to them, and then feeling depleted as a result of all of the work and perceived under-appreciation. Then when depletion sets in, we don’t ask for help. We wallow in the injustice.
So instead of wallowing in the mud of chronic giving, I’m working on pulling back on the reins a bit. My next 90-Day Vision is going to be all about setting bright boundaries. I’m going to focus on pausing before I jump in with the offer to give. I’m going to look at my own well of resources before giving out or taking in. I’m going to make this a daily practice. I’ll let you know how it goes.
Here’s my best practices list for learning how to gracefully ask for help in business and in life:
1. Before you give, look at what you have.
You can’t give what you don’t have—seems obvious, right? And even if you “know” exactly what someone else needs in any given circumstance, make sure that you really have the stores of resources (time, energy, money, whatever) to give. You’re not going to give someone something and immediately have it restored for you.
And if you feel that you don’t need whatever you’re considering giving away, second guess yourself. Every. Time. Resentment sets in strongly when you give and later regret the obligation you created for yourself. There’s a good reason you put your oxygen mask on first.
2. When you realize that you are missing something, reflect on it.
This does NOT mean blame yourself or someone else for whatever you are “missing.” It is a part of being human to be missing something. There is no such thing as perfection. There is no such thing as never screwing up. We’re here to learn. Admit that to yourself. Say it outloud if you need to. So you are able to stay clear enough to actually solve your problems, rather than just wallowing in them.
Most often, high-functioning people think they’re invincible and forget to take care of themselves. Take care of yourself. Eat breakfast. Savor your down time. Spend time with people you love. Exercise your body and mind and emotions so that they are effective for you as tools, rather than obstacles.
The more you take care of yourself, the more aware you become of what you need, what you don’t need and what you’re missing. It changes daily. There’s never a precipice of “I’ve gotten there, and now I get to just be here in perfection!” Instead, work on maintaining being in a good space and knowing it so well that you know exactly what you need…and what you don’t need.
3. Ask for help.
High-functioning people can also tend toward narcissism (eh hem)…and we forget that we can’t actually hold up the world’s business on top of our little shoulders all alone. There are 10 billion other people in the world and I know most of the time it feels like they are just here to get in our way. But we’re actually incredibly powerful helpers for each other—if we we allow it to be—if we learn how to ask for help when we need it, in clear, compassionate, expressive language.
Delegation is from B-School 101. Part of being a great business person, and a successful person in general, is finding the best people to support you, and to trust and rely on them with all you’ve got.
There’s somebody in the world that you’d trust with your life, your kids, your checking account, your health, your will. Trust more than just that somebody. Trust a whole bunch of people with that stuff. The more incredible people you have in your life, the better things are, and the more you are capable of handling the stuff that truly only you can handle.
4. Choose the right team, then let it go.
There’s a good bit of letting go in all of this. You’ve got to let go of thinking that only you can manage your company, only you can orchestrate your people, only you can parent your children, only you can handle your finances. This is stuff that everybody does. So if you can’t trust the best of the best of the people you pick to be on your team, then you’re simply over-inflating your own importance in the world…and that leads to…well…becoming just like the crazy cartoon characters (AKA politicians) in the news.
So recruiting the best team of people you can muster is huge. Your support system, your board, your partners, your chief information leaders…cultivate them as family. And then lean on them when you need to. Know yourself, your work, and your dynamics well enough to know what help you need and when you need it. There’s not going be just one person you should rely on for everything…that’s unreasonable. Instead, look at the strong, bright and unique strengths of the people you trust and assign them to do that very thing for you, so you don’t have to do it yourself.
Ultimately, asking for help makes others feel important and more valuable, especially when their unique talents are being used in a spectacular way that maybe no one else could see. Asking someone to use their most favorite and underutilized gift makes her feel seen and heard in a way that solidifies personal bonds and makes people feel good about what they are doing.
And if it just so happens that what they want to do is exactly what you need at any given time, you’ve got yourself an incredible value that hasn’t taken away from anyone or anything. Instead, it has lifted up everyone and builds a team that is unstoppable, dynamic, and inevitably, very profitable.
Here’s to profitability paired with higher perspectives and a bigger picture of growth, where the money and the energy follows the goodness. I’ll keep you posted about my next 90 days. I have a feeling the best is yet to come!
If you’re ready to ask for help, I’d love to be on your unstoppable, dynamic, and inevitably, very profitable team. Contact me today and let’s chat!
Photo credit: dolgachov / 123RF Stock Photo