February 05, 2023
On Asking for the Help You Need


"You can do anything, but not everything." -- David Allen

Last year, I facilitate an online course whose purpose it was to help people transform their inspired ideas, dreams, and ventures into reality. It was ton of fun and very fulfilling -- my "calling", if you will (and even if you won't).

Baked into the learning process were some simple ways to help participants become aware of the places inside themselves where they may be tangled or challenged in their approach.

One tangle that has surprised me is how difficult it is for most people to ask for help.

While it is true that the creative process requires a healthy dose of solitude, it also requires a healthy dose of interaction with others and, occasionally, the well-timed support of others.

Indeed, there are times when even the most self-sufficient and confident among us needs a push, pull, jiggle, jolt, feedback, encouragement, or hug.

Even though, most people intellectually acknowledge this need, when push comes to shove (as it often does), most of us tend to default to the "I'm-in-this-all-alone" mode.



I've been pondering this phenomenon for the past few months, trying my best to better understand it. Here's what I've come up with:

The Ten Most Common Reasons Why Most of Us Don't Ask for Help:

1. We assume that the people we want to ask are too busy.

2. We're unclear about the specific help we need.

3. We don't know who to ask for help.

4. We anticipate discomfort if our request for help is "rejected".

5. We don't belie we deserve anyone's help.

6. We think that asking for help is a sign of weakness.

7. We don't want to be "beholding" to anyone (if the person who agrees to our request turns around and ask us for help.)

8. We are afraid of strong personalities challenging our approach.

9. We are afraid of success.

10. We are afraid that our finished product won't be as incredible as we imagine it will be, so we subvert its completion by not asking for help.

So there you have it -- ten Big Bad Wolves that may have taken up residence in your head -- funky, old habits that compromise your ability to ask for help.

Please know there are many ways to go over, under, around, and through these obstacles. For starters, consider some of the following options. Then choose at least one of them to get the party started:

Teamwork puzzle.jpg

The Idiot Savant's Guide to Getting the Help You Need

1. Make a list of everything you don't know about your project.

2. Make a list of the kind of help you need. Be very specific!

3. Make a list of everyone whose help you'd like.

4. Identify your preferred ways of asking for help, i.e. email, phone call, Zoom call, breakfast, lunch, dinner, drinks, walk, etc.

5. What, if anything, can you barter in exchange for the help you are seeking, so it's not just a one-way transaction?

6. Who has asked YOU for help in the past? How did you respond?

7. List your biggest limiting assumptions (i.e. funky beliefs) about asking for help.

8. Transform each of your limiting assumptions into a question, beginning with the words "How can I?" For example, if one of your beliefs is "Everyone I know is too busy to help me," change that assumption into a question, i.e. "How can I find out if the people I know are too busy to help me?"

9. Close your eyes and imagine that you had all the support you needed. How does that feel?

10. Sometimes, the hardest part of asking for help, is the opening line -- a way to break the ice. Towards that end, take a look at the conversation starters below and see if any of them work for you.

-- "I'm not sure if you know this, but I am deeply immersed in a very meaningful project (insert project name here). The deeper I get into it, the more I realize that I'm going to need some support. I wonder if you would be willing to (specific request). I'm guessing this will take you about 20 minutes per week."

-- "Committed to (insert project name here) before the end of the year, I'm in the process of putting together a team of friends to provide some support along the way. I wonder if you're be available to be part of my team. Here's the specific support I'd be asking you for (insert request here)."

-- "I have so much respect for your ability to (insert ability here). This, as you may know, is not one of my strengths. Would you be open, from time to time, to provide some input, coaching, or support in this arena?"

-- "Recently, I've run into some challenges with my project (insert specific challenge here). From what I can tell, you have already mastered this domain. Would you be willing to assist me?"

-- "Are you available, once a week, to meet with me and share your ideas and insights about my project?"

"Ask and ye shall receive."

The Hero's Journey and the Creative Process
An Invitation to Dive Deeper Into Your Own Creative Process

Posted by Mitch Ditkoff at February 5, 2023 08:22 AM

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