I’ve become very familiar with one of my blocks lately. Blocks, you know those things that keep us stuck in the mud, keep us from getting things done and moving forward. One of mine seems to be about asking for help. Somewhere along the line, I internalized the message that I needed to figure it out on my own, to go it alone, to do anything but ask for help. I don’t think this is very uncommon, in fact I’ll bet some of you have felt exactly the same.
I have been aware of this aversion to asking for help for many years, and many times I have moved through the block and asked. And now, I am being shown that I need to ask more and more deeply, that it is crucial not only for moving forward with my life and career, but also in sharing my gifts with others – in order to truly be of service I need to ask for lots and lots of help. Well, hell.
I’ll give you an example. This week I felt totally blocked, and stuck in the mud. I have a couple of projects that I haven’t been able to make any progress with, and I knew that I needed a lot of help. Not making progress with these projects meant that people didn’t know about my business and offerings, and not only does my business suffer but I can’t be of service to those who need my coaching. At the same time, I knew someone who would be the perfect person to help me with these and other projects – and I mean the perfect person. As a matter of fact, there were two people who were excellent at the things I was having trouble with, and who I thought might also want to exchange their knowledge and expertise for mine. Both of them were struggling with things I could really help them with, and I knew they could help me. And yet for weeks I sat on it! My internal gremlins were whispering in my ear, “you’ll be bothering them if you ask,” or “don’t be a nuisance, you should be able to figure this stuff out yourself.”
So I did the next best thing, I asked for help about asking for help! I meet weekly with a wonderful small group of women that I’ve gotten to know through The Right Brain Business Plan mentorship program with Jennifer Lee. As a matter of fact, this month’s work with Jennifer in the mentorship program was around asking for help and partnering with others (of course!). I asked my lovely group, to help me with asking, and they reminded me that if I don’t ask then nothing will happen and I’ll stay stuck. But, I told them, it’s so hard to ask, I feel like a failure, I feel ashamed that I need to ask. They were totally loving and supportive and let me have my feelings and my tears. Then the message, delivered with total understanding and compassion, was: get off your whiny ass and ask already!!!
Sometimes a tough love kick in the pants is exactly what I need to begin movement. I realized that the courage is in the asking, and that I needed to let go of the result (i.e., no strings attached to the offer). So I did, I asked both women to partner with me. And I got an immediate “yes!!!!” from one, and no response from the other. And it turns out that the person who agreed is more than perfect, we will be collaborating on many levels, and wow asking her really was the absolute best thing I ever could have done. I felt so buoyed, like I could fly – definitely no longer stuck but actually moving! By asking, I gave her a gift as well, the gift of connection, of respect and honoring her gifts, and of giving her a choice with no strings attached.
Several months ago, I saw this TED talk by Amanda Palmer called “The art of asking.” At the time I thought “so great!” and then thought no more about it. Today as I composed this post in the shower, it came roaring back into my head and I watched it again before writing. Now I feel the truth of what she is saying, the gift of connection and love that we give ourselves and others when we ask can be truly transformational. Enjoy!