With 2012 staring us right in the face, I thought I’d dust off an old post as a useful reminder as you plan the year ahead – “help” is not a dirty word. I have always believed asking for help is a sign of maturity as a leader. I think John Lennon said it best: “I get by with a little help from my friends.” So my question is this - are you easy to help? Think about it…do you make it easy for others to want to help you, or is your demeanor such that most people won’t lift a finger to assist you in a time of need? How many times during the course of your career have you witnessed executives and entrepreneurs who desperately need help, but either don’t recognize it, or worse yet, make it virtually impossible for someone to help them? In today’s post I’ll address the importance of positioning yourself to be helped…
If your pride, ego, arrogance, ignorance, the way you were raised or any other excuse (yes I did say excuse) keeps you from asking for help, it is precisely those traits that will keep you from maximizing your potential. I hate to break it to you, but you don’t know everything or everybody, so why even bother pretending that you couldn’t use a bit of help? No single person can or should go it alone in today’s business world. The more partners, sympathizers, champions, allies, supporters, enablers, influencers, advisers, mentors, friends, and family you have helping you succeed, the faster you will achieve your goals. Without question the most successful business people on the planet are those that have learned to blow through self-imposed barriers to openly harness the power of broader spheres of influence.
I don’t know about you, but I am so tired of all the “self-made man” propaganda floating around business circles. I sincerely believe there is no such thing as a “self-made man”. While I take complete responsibility for all my failures and shortcomings, I take very little credit for my own success. Virtually all of the good things that have happened to me over the years have been the result of the collaborative efforts of many. I don’t see asking for help as a sign of weakness, rather I see it as a very smart thing to do, and I therefore tend to seek out help wherever I can find it. I have long made it a practice to encourage others to help me succeed. My personal and professional network are far more important to my success than my individual competencies. My clients hire me not solely on the basis of what I can personally do for them in a vacuum, but rather what the collective influence of my network and resources can accomplish for them when I operate outside of my own personal bubble.
If you take anything away from today’s post let it be the following two statements: 1.) If a single day passes where you don’t ask for help you have failed yourself and those around you, and; 2.) If a single day passes where you have not helped someone else you have failed as a leader. If you desire to enlist others in your success the following 5 items are the basic prerequisites for getting others to help you:
- Be Trustworthy: Say what you mean, mean what you say, and do what you say you’ll do. By simply honoring your commitments and being reliable you’ll be someone who easily engenders the trust and confidence of others. People clearly do things to help those whom they trust, and will quite obviously avoid going the extra mile for those whom they don’t.
- Don’t be a jerk: While people don’t necessarily have to like you in order to help you, it certainly doesn’t hurt. However I can promise you that if you’re perceived as a jerk people will not only go out of their way not to help you succeed, but they will do everything possible to impede your success. I have long been a believer that contrary to popular opinion, nice guys (and gals) do in fact finish first.
- Go out of your way to help others: Do unto others – what goes around comes around – you reap what you sow, and any number of other statements to that effect ring true more often than not. If you are sincerely interested in helping others, and make it a habit to go out of your way to do so, then those people will likely be inclined to reciprocate.
- Know what you want and focus your efforts to that end: You must develop a clear picture of what it is that you want to accomplish, and then apply laser-like focus in the pursuit of your goals.
- Make your goals known to those that can help you: It is not only important to communicate your vision to those in a position to help you succeed, but always make sure and ask for their help. Don’t be bashful or embarrassed, but rather confidently recruit others to become enablers and evangelists of your cause. You need to believe that one of your top priorities is team building, and consistently seek out greater numbers of people to champion your cause and scale your efforts.
In the final analysis it’s really all a matter of perspective…you can either view yourself as part of a hierarchical world sitting at the top of the org chart puffing your chest and propping-up your ego, or you can view yourself as the hub at the center of a large and diverse network. The latter is both more profitable and enjoyable than the former. You can either choose to build your personal brand and your success at the expense of others, or by helping others.
As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts about the importance of asking for help no matter what your title is, or where you sit on the org chart…Thoughts?