I Hate Asking for Help
I HATE asking for help. In my world, asking for help is not only a sign of weakness, but, as I learned from an early age, asking for help often means I won’t get any. My family tried, but they just were not in a position to be there for me. So as a result, I’m lousy at figuring out what I need and then asking other people to help me.
Independence Is Overrated
The problem with thinking that I have to do everything myself is that:
- It’s tiring
- I’m not that good at a lot of stuff
- It’s lonely
- Other people resent it
- I don’t give people a chance to show their support and love for me
Is It My Ego Talking?
There’s also an element of ego in “not asking.” As if, when I reveal a need and someone helps me, I might owe them something and then I can’t do whatever I want. Ego is very bad reason not to ask for help and tricky to recognize.
Balance Is The Goal
Being too dependent is equally bad. Not stepping up, getting too comfortable, manipulating others to do my work, etc. This is very bad also. This, however, isn’t my problem. I try to solve my problems and everyone else’s. Even if people don’t want my help. So now I work on paying attention to what I need and help others in a way that I can (when asked).
While it’s painful for me to ask for help, I have to keep trying. It takes more confidence to request help than it does to ‘go it alone.’ Arrggghhh. I hate it!
Image credit: Asking for help
What I Learned
My grandmother used to say, if someone offers you something and you don’t want it… say, “not today, try me tomorrow.” I thought she was nuts (well, she was, but not for saying that.) Women are taught to say yes. We are rewarded for saying yes… “Yes, I’ll make dinner and do the dishes.” Yes, I’ll volunteer at the school. Yes, I’ll run those errands, put a band aid on that cut, work that extra shift and on and on. I never learned to say no. I learned to try to please people, even at the expense of my own well being.
Why I Can’t Just Say Yes All The Time
So I had to learn to say no. One “no” at a time. It was hard. Every time I said no, I felt like I was disappointing everyone. Then it began to dawn on me. I’m not the only person who can do whatever needs to get done. Often, I wasn’t even the best person to do it. When I said no, it gave someone else a chance to give, to help, to learn, to show they cared. Who knew?
The Power of No
Who knew I could say no, feel better about myself and provide someone else with an opportunity? I didn’t know it then but I know it now. If you are one of the lucky people who learned to say no early in life, I envy you. I’m going to be watching you, to see how you do it.
Image Credit: No is a complete sentence
Dog Eat Dog
It may seem counter intuitive in this dog eat dog world, that being nice could help a person’s career. People think being cut throat and having a competitive fire is needed to get ahead — and to get ahead we must step on and over people.
There IS a place in business for a seriously competitive attitude. Specifically, when customers or products are involved, being better and stronger can benefit all. Imagine the world of personal computers, for instance, if there were no competition? Where would that industry be? Would our lives be better or worse?
Nice Guys Finish – First
Being kind, generous, thoughtful and interested in those around us takes effort. And that is largely the problem.
As we rush through our days, we get so focused on “doing”… that we forget to just “be.”
So, just for today, stop, breathe, see the person standing next to you and smile. Listen when they talk. You may be surprised at their reaction — and how you feel.
Photo credit: Jessica Hagy
“Persistence is very important. You should not give up unless you are forced to give up.” Elon Musk
More Money = More Happiness?
I was listening to the radio this morning and heard a segment about happiness and wealth. Do you think that if you had more money that you’d be “happier?”
I submit that the happiest people are those who (of those that have their basic needs met) have a reason to act. Something that they believe in and are willing to ‘persist’ for. That they believe in something so completely, that they are willing to keep going, even when forces work against them.
“You have to love something enough to persist. You have to persist enough to deepen your love. And then abundance is the natural outcome. Not just for you but for everyone. Since wealth comes to those who create wealth for others.“ James Altucher
Modern living is full of distractions. It’s easier to flit from thing to thing — to just try something new instead of trying to get better. Improving takes a lot of effort. It’s much easier to be ‘entertained’. This is why the addiction to our devices is so troubling. We no longer take the time to sit and daydream; we can just be ‘distracted.’ For today, try to put your phone down for 2 hours at a time. Set a timer if you need to.
Photo Credit: The Runner Hamed Saber
“Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.” Winston Churchill
The whole point of life is to keep trying. Fall down, get up, stumble; stumble forward.
Many people don’t understand the joy of trying and failing. Somehow they gauge their worth by things; not by how many times they fall on their face and get back up.
I’m begging you; be weird. The world needs you.
Image credit: Banksy
What Is a DTM?
I was one of those employees labeled as ‘difficult to manage.’ When I worked in corporate america, I wasn’t intimidated by anyone’s position in the company. I tended to say my ideas out loud, even when they weren’t solicited. I was comfortable organizing chaos and happy when working with a team to make progress where others didn’t see how it could be done. I haven’t changed; much.
In this article in the Harvard Business Review, “Improve Your Ability to Learn,” I finally feel vindicated. Here’s how they describe such an employee (aka me).
“While talented, Alex had come to be known behind closed doors by the moniker “DTM” – difficult to manage. He marched to the beat of his own drummer, and he wasn’t afraid to challenge the status quo. He loved a challenge, and he was comfortable taking risks.”
Oh, Oh, Now What Do I Do?
The point of this article is that some DTM’s can be exemplary in their ability to learn, including the importance of “learning agility, a set of qualities and attributes that allow an individual to stay flexible, grow from mistakes, and rise to a diverse array of challenges.” It’s gratifying to know that my brashness and challenging personality were actually good things.
Here are some characteristics of DTM’s – we tend to be more extroverted, focused, original and resilient and less accommodating to slow progress and excuses. If you have these characteristics, try the following – look for stretch assignments, regularly seek real input and most of all, enhance your listening skills. As for me, I’m old… too late for me to get along like a nice girl.
Photo credit: Five tips
Good Leader vs. Great Manager
Would you rather be a good leader or a great manager? There isn’t a ‘right’ answer. It’s all in what you value, probably the stage of your career and many other factors. Lots of people think they are both a good manager and a good leader. The reality is, that rarely are people really good at both.
Recognizing Your Natural Strengths
Years ago, I took a leadership and strategic planning course. The instructor insisted that people who weren’t ‘born’ leaders, including the ability to think strategically, could be trained to do so. I disagreed then and I disagree now.
I think each of us has a natural strength toward either leadership or “managership.” We can build leadership “skills,” which are very important, but the notion that we can ‘teach’ people to be great leaders is problematic.
Learning to be a good manager is hard and takes a long time. Good managers make the team feel positive and empowered. Good managers take themselves out of the equation and focus on the task and the team.
Maybe I’m Wrong
But wait, most mothers (and a lot of dads) are the ultimate managers. They know how to get things done. They make it look easy to run a household, feed, clothe, educate, chauffeur, etc. At the same time, they lead each child to be their very best. Maybe classroom teachers learn both. Maybe master tradesmen, learn both.
Maybe if you practice every day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, for 20 years; you learn both.
“Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.” – George S. Patton
Watch a child learning to walk. We let them fall down, over and over; they have lots of ways to get that toy. They’ll crawl, knee-walk, butt-slide and many more ways we’d never consider. If we dictated when and how our child learned to walk, would that be better than letting them find their own way? No. Because they are learning more than just walking. They are learning to learn, to gain command over their muscles.
The older we are, the more we want to tell people what to do AND how to do it. We’re afraid they might not do it … “the way we want.” When was the last time you let the people around you (co-workers, family members, etc.) figure out the ‘how’ to get something done.
The Power of Letting Go
There is a place in the world for control freaks (think safety). But if General Patton was able to let soldiers find the “how” within the structure of the military, then surely we can let go of the “how” at work and at home.
People rise to the occasion if they understand what they’re supposed to do and, whenever possible, WHY they need to do it. Sometimes when people complain about having to much to do, it’s because they don’t know how to let go, ask for help, or see that there are many ways to solve a problem. Think about it.
Photo credit: Happily Learning to Walk Delta Mike
Success is how high you bounce when you hit bottom (Gen. George Patton)
Thinking back on my career, I see 5 turning points, i.e. mistakes:
- blabbing when I should have kept my mouth shut (my most common)
- being disrespectful to a boss
- not admitting when I was wrong
As I suffered the consequences of my actions (getting fired or pulled off a big project); I berated myself. What helped me was…
- talking about it to someone I trusted
- telling myself that I am human
- examining why I behaved that way (what was in it for me)
This last step is where I learned the most. When I would act against my own best interest, there was usually something to justify it. “He deserved to be taken down a peg.” “They don’t admit their mistakes, why should I?”
My self-defeating behavior stemmed from insecurity and a lack of self understanding.
Success depends on learning from mistakes. Mistakes are good. They wear down our sharp edges. I can look in the mirror and smile. Make friends with your mistakes.
Photo Credit: The Colors Emerge Familymwr
In 1930, many people found themselves without work; without a way to support their families. Have things changed? Some have; some haven’t.
Take a closer look at the picture. This man, probably dressed in his good clothes, is walking the streets, advertising, ON HIS BACK, that he needs work. Imagine if you had to do this. That you were so desperate to work that you literally had to walk the streets with a sign.
Humbling isn’t it?
Just for today, think about how fortunate you are. Whether you have a job or not. If you have a place to live, food to eat, a family, good health or any combination of these, you are one of the lucky people. For today, I choose gratitude for what I have.
(If you need a little help finding a job… check out, “What’s Different About Job Search in 2015?”)
Photo credit: I know 3 trades