I don’t know if it’s because I’m a dude or if I’m just stubborn, but I hate asking for help. I especially hate asking for help in the pathetic whiny sounding voice, “can you help us with X, Y, and Z so we can get closer to reaching our dream…puh-lease?”.
At least that’s how I feel some people interpret it.
I decided recently that it was time for me to write an email asking my friends and family for help with our web series and our blog (you might be one of them), and it was actually rather hard for me to write.
It was a few super simple requests. All I was asking for was the opportunity to tell them what we were doing, I asked for their encouragement, I asked for them to subscribe to us and forward the email to friends if they felt the content was good enough.
That really wasn’t too much to ask yet I labored over this email because I “hate asking for help.” In the first paragraph of this post I reasoned that asking for help was difficult was because I’m a dude or stubborn. Well, neither one is true.
Jack Canfield, originator of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series and one of America’s leading authorities on creating success and personal fulfillment, actually laid it out pretty clearly for me in his book The Success Principles: How to Get From Where You Are to Where You Want to Be.
According to Canfield, the real reason I was afraid to ask my friends and family for help (my biggest supporters for crying out loud) is because I’m:
“afraid of many things such as looking needy, looking foolish, and looking stupid. But mostly [I’m] afraid of experiencing rejection. [I’m] afraid of hearing the word no.”
I was having a hard time mustering the courage to write a super simple email to my friends and family asking for help because I was harboring fears of looking needy, foolish, stupid, and being rejected…by my closest family and friends!
Ever feel that way?
Canfield goes on to state, “The sad thing is that they’re actually rejecting themselves in advance. They’re saying no to themselves before anyone else even has a chance to.”
By holding on to my fears I was rejecting myself even before my friends and family had a chance to reject me. How can I even come close to accomplishing what I want if I’m rejecting myself already, bringing a sense of failure upon myself before I even get started? How is anyone else supposed to believe in my dreams if I can’t even believe in them myself?
The reality of my situation really sunk in when I realized that what I was asking of my friends and family was pretty freaking miniscule compared to what I’ll have to do in the future with bigger requests.
I have to be ready to ask for help from experienced filmmakers, actors, and TV hosts. I’ll eventually have to ask for help from TV editors and producers, supporters I don’t know, and eventually a TV network…oh, and people we don’t even know when we get lost on one of our adventures in some remote jungle of some foreign country!
Who knows what the magnitude of my need will be in the future and whom I’ll have to ask for help to fill that need.
The point is, I better start getting over the fear of asking for help for what I want, or for what I need, right now, otherwise I may be my own biggest hindrance to accomplishing my “really big freakin’ dream.”
I don’t want to say no to myself before anyone else has a chance to!
The Asking Formula
I’m actually a big proponent of self-development books. I’ve read in multiple books, like Steve Siebold’s How Rich People Think, that the most successful people, ones who have accomplished their “really big freakin’ dreams” already (it doesn’t have to be wealth), are constantly reading or listening to books that talk about self-improvement.
I decided to review the chapter on “asking” in The Success Principles to help me refocus on the value of asking and to eliminate the illusion of fear behind asking. It’s a book that I read in the past, but it’s apparent I needed a refresher (another great book on “asking” is The Aladdin Factor).
The Success Principles states that there is “a specific science to asking for, and getting, what you want or need in life…”
The following is taken directly from the book (I’d recommend getting the audio edition of The Success Principles):
- Ask as if you expect to get it. Ask with positive expectation. Ask from the place that you have already been given it. It’s a done deal. Ask as if you expect to get a yes.
- Assume you can. Don’t start with the assumption that you can’t get it. If you are going to assume, assume you can get an upgrade. Assume you can get a table by the window. Assume that you can return it without a sales slip. Assume that you can get a scholarship, that you can get a raise, that you can get tickets at this late date. Don’t ever assume against yourself.
- Ask someone who can give it to you. Qualify the person. “Who would I have to speak to get…”, “Who is authorized to make a decision about…”, “What would have to happen for me to get…”
- Be clear and specific. Vague requests produce vague results. Your requests need to be specific.
- Ask repeatedly. One of the most important principles of success is persistence, not giving up. Whenever you’re asking others to participate in the fulfillment of your goals, some people are going to say no…The key is not to give up. When someone says no, you keep on asking…Because when you keep on asking – even the same persons again and again – you might get a yes.
It amazes me how simple asking for help really is with this formula. Yet, even as a normal human who let’s his own mind get in his own way, it’s still hard to believe that I would allow the fear of looking needy, foolish, stupid, or being rejected (with just my family and friends!) get in the way of living out my passion, especially considering I only have about 69 years left to live…and that’s not a lot of time.
It’s not worth it to not ask for help, especially if asking is going to get me where I want to go. It’s just one of the toughest things I have to do. These five steps, though, have made it easier as it’s changed the way I now look at asking for help by realizing it’s more of a mindset and something that can be mastered through practice, perseverance, and the right system…I love systems.
I believe that asking for help will take me leaps and bounds closer to accomplishing our “really big freakin’ dream”, so it’s time to do it more often.
The worst that could happen is they (or maybe it’s you) might say no.
Do you struggle asking for help for what you need or want? Why or why not? Tell us your story below!
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