I don’t like asking for help. I’ve realised that recently after having problems with my next door neighbour.
My challenge around asking for help (I have psycho-analysed) has something to do with me being:
a) Independent from a young age
b) A bit shy sometimes (yes me!)
c) A dislike of admitting I can’t do something
d) Feeling as if I’ve I’m a failure for having been unable to do it myself
e) Being a bit of a stubborn git
f) I have been let down by others when I have asked for help before
As I write this, I actually feel like a wally for even having listed those things. But I want to be honest. I don’t like asking for help.
Of course all of these attribute are in many ways serving and brilliant. Having had my own front door key from the age of 7 and 3 or 4 hours home alone after school whilst my mum was still at work, made me pretty self-sufficient. If I wanted food I had to make it, if I wanted something from a high shelf or cupboard I had to climb up there to get it. If I didn’t know how to answer a question in my homework I would make one up! The positive implications of this later on meant that I do not need to call anyone to help me put together Ikea furniture and I am not worried by having to figure things out on my own.
As a result of growing up as an only child and being an independent one, there was a tendency to not “need” friends so much. I was ok by myself. Now being in a job where I have to be quite extroverted, advising people and being on stage and teaching or speaking, I quite enjoy being able to hide away in my shell afterwards to recharge my batteries.
After a while, it’s easy to get used to doing stuff alone – and doing it well. In some ways when you then have to start delegating to others it can be difficult to let go and see them doing things in a totally different way to how you would do it. Most things I have attempted to do I have done, and the ones I haven’t done I’ve conveniently forgotten about! So when I meet a challenge that I can’t do, some people will act surprise and tease me for it. I’d rather keep attempting to figure it out myself than ask for help. It is extremely gratifying to be able to say “Yes I did do all of that and yes I did it completely by myself.” This has in the past given me a somewhat smug feeling, that I have rather enjoyed.
Obviously avoiding failure speaks for itself. It means I have been far more focused on achieving which has been a good thing.
So with all of that learning, being a bit of a stubborn git is no great surprise!
The sad bit is I don’t remember any epic incidents where others have let me down so I’m not too sure where that came from. Perhaps it has more to do with a low expectation of others. However, that feeling of being let down by others has certainly encouraged me to be more resourceful – to learn how to do as much as I can without leaning on others.
Now here’s the down side to this character trait:
When you try to do everything independently, it is exhausting, stressful, tense and sometimes lonely. Sometimes you fail to learn easier ways of doing things that others have learned and can teach you.
If you let others help you and you find the right people, you can have a team that gets things done far quicker than you could do by yourself.
By letting others help, you can relax as you know it is safe to sleep with both eyes shut. You don’t have to always be the one on guard.
Several things can get done at once when there is someone to help and having someone to help might actually be good fun.
Plus, what is the point in being the only one who is good at what you do? You might get hit by a bus tomorrow and then all of your secret skills will be gone with you. When you get help from others, you may well be helping them too by having them there. They can learn from you and your legacy can continue long into the future, even when you are not here to do it yourself.
The next time someone tells you “You need to get some help!” Don’t take it as an insult, embrace the insight they have given you and get your team together.