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Wellbeing

Published January 25th 2022

Why Asking For Help In Your Career Is A Strength, Not A Weakness

Pop quiz: Do any of these describe your current state?

  • Your personal life and work life have blended into an indistinguishable jumble. 
  • You’re working at a sprint but your to-do list never gets shorter. 
  • When asked what you do in your free time you respond, “My what?”  

If so, you’re teetering on the edge of – or already submerged in – burnout. When overwhelmed feels like an understatement, it’s time to make some changes.

I get it. I’ve been there. I went from being impeccably organized to feeling hopelessly scattered. What helped me course-correct? This simple (and sometimes terrifying) step: Asking for help.

Why we should be asking for help more often

The very idea of asking for help can feel like a non-starter. We’ve been led to believe that it’s possible to do it all, all by yourself. We’ve consumed the cultural myth that asking for help makes you a bad leader. But it’s not true. 

In an article for the Harvard Business Review, Peter Bregman writes “Hiding our weaknesses in an attempt to be strong leaders makes us weak leaders. Our vulnerabilities make us most vulnerable when we pretend they don’t exist.”

Asking for help can actually make people see you as a more competent leader. And it can make you better at your job. Getting help creates space for the activities that make you successful as an entrepreneur: Researching content trends. Creating engaging content. Positioning yourself as a thought leader. 

Overcoming my fear of seeking help was a game changer in my career. Not only did I reclaim some breathing room, but my business grew. I was respected more by the teams I worked with and I was able to create more impact and visibility with my business. 

Here are three things you can do this week to ask for help – and become a stronger leader in the process.

1.Hire help

No matter where you are in your career, you can free up time by paying someone to help you. From one-off tasks to a full-time executive assistant, hiring help can support you as you focus on tasks that help you grow your business and revenue. 

When I started Morelli Writers, I went from being a business of one to growing an agency. The process was exciting, but not exactly smooth.

I’ve always identified as an organized person. I can keep track of a lot of things with relative ease. And yet, as my business grew I started to drop balls. I would schedule meetings… but at the wrong time. I’d look at my task list and feel overwhelmed about what to do next. In short, I was holding too much in my brain. I knew I needed to ask for help. 

I hired an executive assistant to help me manage my schedule and my tasks. As soon as she came on board, I started to regain the space and time I needed. I could drive business ideas forward. I had time to be creative. With the business tasks covered, I could focus on increasing revenue. And I saw immediate results in reduced stress and improved mental health.

But you don’t need to have your own payroll to hire support. There are plenty of opportunities to ask for help, either at home or at work, to find a better work-life balance.

Take a moment and ask yourself: What could asking for help look like for you? 

Could it be: Hiring someone to clean your house once or twice a month? Asking a friend to grab a gallon of milk for you while they’re at the store so you finish up sales calls or emails before 5pm? Or hiring a virtual assistant for five hours a month to organize your calendar and send emails? 

Whatever it is, creating more time can help you regain your creative mojo and move your business forward.

2.Use your network.

Your contacts list is full of experts – even if your friends and neighbors aren’t marketers and content creators. Reach out to your network when you need insight, feedback, or advice.

Let’s say you’re writing an email, website copy, or social media post for your business, and you need some feedback. If you can’t hire a copywriter or editor, approach a friend who would shop at your business or use your services. Offer to buy them a coffee for their honest feedback.

Your friend will probably feel delighted that you asked.

Peter Bregman, again, in the Harvard Business Review: “The reality is that leaders who don’t need help have no one to lead. People feel good when they help. They are inspired when they are needed. They don’t think less of the people they help, they feel more connected.”

Rather than fostering guilt, this kind of exchange can be joyful. Every time I’ve done it, I’ve been amazed by the outcome. Reaching out to your network empowers your friends – you value their expertise! And it empowers you to grow as a leader and business owner.

Reaching out to your network empowers your friends – you value their expertise! And it empowers you to grow as a leader and business owner.

In the end, you’ll feel mutually valued and connected. (And your friend may ask you to return the favor down the line!)

3. Ask for a hype boost.

You may not have a huge advertising budget, or a built-in platform with a huge audience. At the same time, you can’t build in a vacuum. 

Asking for help with referrals, testimonials, and collaborations can give your business a big boost while you connect with your community.

“Mutual helping is even more vital in an era of knowledge work, when positive business outcomes depend on creativity in often very complex projects.”

“IDEO’s Culture of Helping,” by Teresa M. Amabile, Colin M. Fisher, and Julianna Pillemer, in Harvard Business Review magazine

When I was first starting my business, I was afraid of asking for referrals and testimonials. So afraid that I avoided asking, even when people were telling me how much they valued my work. Overcoming that fear wasn’t easy, but it made a huge difference. It increased my own confidence in my services, as well as the confidence of my future clients. 

The data bears this out: 97% of B2B customers consider testimonials and reviews to be a website’s most reliable content. And testimonials on sales pages increase conversions by 34%. (Source)

It can be daunting at first. But once you get good at asking for testimonials and referrals, it becomes second nature.

Another way to build your word-of-mouth reputation is through collaborations. Identify friends and contacts who have complementary (but non-competitive) businesses. (If you don’t have contacts that fit the bill, try joining a content community.) Ask them to collaborate with you on a free call or live streaming event. It’s an easy way to boost visibility that will help both of you!

Wrap-up

Even while you’re feeling stress and burnout creep up, asking for help can feel like a stretch. As a small business owner, I kept asking myself: why can’t I do these basic things? But the reality is, all of those basic things add up to be too much for one person.

The good news is that asking for help can not only help you, but can strengthen your relationships, build your network, and support others’ small businesses. And as a leader, asking for help is a strength, not a weakness.

The good news is that asking for help can not only help you, but can strengthen your relationships, build your network, and support others’ small businesses. And as a leader, asking for help is a strength, not a weakness. 

I get it, sometimes, as a leader or business owner, you might feel guilty asking for help. This is totally normal and you’re not alone. 

Here’s the good news: the way to combat the guilt that stops you from asking for help is to remind yourself that asking for help is good, getting help is great, and when the opportunity arises you can return the help, pay it forward and support your colleagues as they build up the courage to ask for help themselves.

These concrete steps can help you take your foot off the gas and get back to a reasonable pace – all while you build your credibility as a leader and move your business forward. 

Why not make that first move today?

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