Donâ€™t Go It Aloneâ€”Ask for Help
Asking for help can be hard. Many people who request my assistance as a career coach and executive coach admit having a difficult time requesting help from others. Ironically, circumstances that result from a reluctance or inability to ask for help are often what lead people to seek life coaching in the first place.
What kinds of problems can arise when you try to â€œdo it allâ€ even though you lack the bandwidth? You can end up:
â€¢ Falling behind on deadlines because you canâ€™t deliver what you promisedâ€¨
â€¢ Feeling overwhelmed because youâ€™ve taken on more than one person can reasonably manageâ€¨
â€¢ Disappointing yourself and others because youâ€™ve set your expectations too high
These situations can affect both your personal and professional life. If you tend to â€œgo it aloneâ€ at home, you may take on more than your fair share of household or financial responsibilities. At work, inefficient delegation and poor teamwork can lead you to take on too much, derailing projects that should be approached as a group for best results.â€¨
Here are some healthy habits to develop around asking for help:
See Asking as a Strength, Not a Weakness
A key reason why many people hesitate to get the help they need is that asking for a hand makes them feel vulnerable. But if you think about whatâ€™s behind effective management, itâ€™s based on understanding how to maximize all talents and resources in your group. Itâ€™s not about completing entire projects on your own.
For one thing, attempting to â€œmicro-manage,â€ so that your hands are in all pots, prevents people with stronger skill sets than you in particular areas from contributing their best work. So donâ€™t view your need to ask for help as a weaknessâ€”itâ€™s really a sign of leadership strength.
Let Others Share the Gloryâ€”and Pain
When you shoulder too much of the burden, you not only put yourself at risk for overwork and burnoutâ€”you also deprive others of the chance to shine. No one on a team wants to feel useless.
If your staff or colleagues have been underutilized, they will no doubt feel grateful for the chance to participate in team projects in a meaningful way. The other advantage of combining forces is that if something goes wrong, youâ€™re not on the hook alone, but will have teammates to support you.
Deliver the Right Message
Asking for help also gets a bad rap from high achievers who believe that to do a job right, you must do it yourself. This egocentric way of thinking will not help you in the end, and can easily backfire to leave you stressed and overwhelmed.
If you have difficulty releasing control of certain tasks because youâ€™re afraid that the job wonâ€™t be done as well as you can do it, focus on your delivery of the request. Be very specific in what you ask for, spelling out exact requirements, duties, and deadlines. Break down instructions into smaller projects to make goals more manageable for helpers.
Start with Safe Asks
To facilitate getting the hang of asking for what you need, target your initial requests to people you trust. Whether itâ€™s a valued colleague, friend, or family member, soliciting help from those youâ€™re comfortable with can help you build the habit of asking more widely in the future. Before you know it, youâ€™ll be reaping benefits from building on the power of twoâ€”or three!
Mark Strong is a Life Coach, Career Coach, and Executive Coach based in NYC. You can find more information at www.markstrongcoaching.com.