Originally published on heartbeings.com:
Asking for help makes you seem weak or overwhelmed, right? Wrong. In fact, by not asking for help, you’re not only overworking yourself but making it hard for others to appreciate you. See how NOT doing it all yourself makes you stronger.
by Barb Vitelli, Contributing Writer Monday, 27 June 2016
I was once a “do it all myself” kind of person. I took pride in never asking for help. I wanted to show people I could manage a lot and still come out on top. And I told myself I liked being busy, having my hands in a lot of things.
But a slow change began when I entered the work force, got married, and had four children. I feel it even more now that I have returned to work after twenty years. Over time, I have learned, at glacier speed, that projecting the image that I could do it all by myself, and then feeling the burden of making it happen, had some negative effects I had never considered.
At my first job out of graduate school, I wanted to project confidence and capability, so I never said no to assignments. I let the bosses pile on the work, seeing it as their test to justify hiring me. I was young, and woefully inexperienced in the tricky area of asserting myself, and I even once heard the top boss laugh and say I was “as green as a salad.” I never said no or asked for help, but I fumed inside when my peers didn’t step up. More work piled on. I was loaned out to other departments. I did the work, thinking I would prove myself, move up quickly and reap the rewards. What I learned was the new person who takes on more and more work without asking for help becomes the person who gets more work, and doesn’t get help, even when she needs it. Instead of feeling capable and valued, I felt overburdened and unappreciated. Although I couldn’t have seen it then, I can say now that it was completely my fault! No matter where you are on the ladder, and at home and in personal relationships, letting go of the “doing it all” attitude will make you happier.
In a September 2014 article from Inc.com, “5 Mistaken Beliefs About Asking For Help”, Lori Corcurea notes, “The act of asking for support and openly receiving is probably one of the hardest life skills to practice, yet it’s the skill that can make you a better human being and a stronger leader.”
Corcurea is CEO and co-founder of Spark Creations, an organization that focuses on creating and inspiring loving human connections at work and at home. She outlines the reasons why people have a hard time asking for help. Many people believe it’s a sign of weakness and worry that it will make others think they are losing control of the situation. In addition, people think they are the only ones who can finish the job in time, that it’s faster to just do it alone.
Corcurea contends that asking for help makes leaders stronger because it allows them to retain focus. In addition, it gives others the opportunity to share their talents. Leaders who recognize that no one can do it all develop stronger bonds with their team. The result? “There is strength in being vulnerable, in being human. We were designed to co-create life changing experiences together,” she says in the report.
Margie Warrell, a keynote speaker and bestselling author of Courage, Stop Playing Safe and Brave, agrees with this idea. In a March 2015 article from Forbes.com, “Asking For Help Reveals Strength, Not Weakness”, she states that fear is what holds people back. Warrell defines these worries as: “Fear of over-stepping a friendship. Fear of appearing too needy. Fear of imposing. Fear of revealing our struggle and having people realize we don’t have it all together after all.” She adds, “The truth is that we all have gifts to share – time, talent, connections, insights, experience, skills, resources, hospitality. And most people love to share them!”
As a student of learning how to let others help, I’ve learned a lot about collaboration in my new job at our local library. At work, I’m completely dependent on others to explain how things are done and to ask for help when I need it. And because our team of librarians works the reference desk in shifts, cooperation is key. Jobs that aren’t finished when the shift is over are picked up by the next person.
But this advice is not just for the workplace. A busy household is the perfect place to establish a collective dynamic. I have been a slow learner at home, too. As a mother with little children, I often refused help, even when I needed it. Even today, I often think, “isn’t it just faster for me to empty the dishwasher and put everything away, rather than explain where each dish and utensil go?” In the long run, letting go of the idea that my way is the only right way makes me a happier mom.
So now, before I head off to work, I ask for help. Sweeping, doing laundry, setting the table, and emptying the trash are on the family’s list. And the dishwasher job? I’m happy to see it done, even if the spatula is in a new place!
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You may enjoy my other articles on Heart Beings:
“The Epic Minivan”
“Texting Your Way into Empty Nest Happiness”
“Doing It Right the First Time”
“A Small Moment Becomes a Lifeline”
“Is That Mood of Yours Contagious?”
“Choosing Yourself Over Perfection”
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