Every once in a while, I realize that I need help.Maybe you’re the same. It could be with seemingly simple tasks, such as painting a room. Or it could be more complex, like teaching my mother how to use iPhoto. Or someone to teach your children how to skate.
Maybe it’s something even more significant. Help from a lawyer, consultant, therapist, or coach?
Regardless of why you’re in need of help, it’s important to remember that it’s okay to ask. Recognizing that you can’t do everything is actually a strength, not a weakness. In fact, I would say that it’s the sign of a good leader, a good parent, a good person. It shows great awareness, and the desire to improve oneself and the greater good.
I find it interesting how many people are too afraid to ask or let their ego get in the way. And it’s even more poignant in business, where most people often think they need to, have to, or (by brute force) can do it alone.
But if you look at history, the best always have someone in their corner. Michael Jordan mentored Kobe Bryant. Yoda mentored Luke Skywalker. Benjamin Graham mentored Warren Buffett.
Even Steve Jobs, one of the world’s most innovative and creative leaders, was widely known to seek assistance as he continually sought to challenge the status quo. In an interview posted by the Santa Clara Valley Historical Association, he muses:
Most people never pick up the phone and call. Most people never ask. And that’s what separates sometimes the people that do things from the people that just dream about them.
Okay. Hopefully I’ve convinced you. So how do you choose the RIGHT person? My recommendation is to get very clear on and use The Four C’s.
Is the person you are seeking help from credible based on their experience, expertise, and knowledge?
Is there any form of theory, structure, tools, processes, or methods that will guide you through the experience? Or it is just someone hanging a shingle and flying by the seat of their pants?
What’s your budget? What can you afford? And is there a visible path to what you’ll get in return (financial or otherwise) that the person helping you can lay out?
Sometimes it’s gut feel, sometimes it’s something more concrete. It could be shared values, or life and industry experience. Whatever it is, don’t ignore it. To truly learn, answer the hard questions, and benefit from someone else’s expertise, you have to be comfortable working with that person.
Susan Robertson from Stop At Nothing sums it up beautifully:
As a leader, asking for help means you are open to possibility, and willing to listen. It also requires you to take action – to put yourself out there and ask. Take the risk to ask for help.