Here in the United States, we live in a culture that places a premium on independence and self-sufficiency. Let’s pick ourselves up by our bootstraps and as Nike says, “Just Do It”. Sometimes those bootstraps get stretched to their limit and ‘just doing it’ doesn’t mean you have to just do it ALONE. Too often I meet talented, professional people who believe they have failed in their careers or are not meeting in their professional goals. When I ask them to tell me more about what they have done to address the situation, they point to all of the actions they have taken…ALONE. Then, they talk about the people they know or resources they might have access to, only to qualify it with “I could not possibly ask for help” or “take advantage” of a situation or relationship. They feel vulnerable and view asking for help as a sign of weakness.
There is nothing more disheartening than hearing someone say “I can’t” or I couldn’t”. Of course you can! Ask for help and you shall receive it… When you think of people you know who have been successful, do you think they did it all alone? NO! Many brilliant, skilled people received some help or support on their path to success. To get started, consider these straightforward principles that I call the H.E.L.P. strategy to success.
H is for Hopeful – A positive mindset is powerful. You must believe that the glass at least half full. Keep your eyes wide open and be curious. Seek the people, information, and resources that are available to you. They may not be immediately apparent, but they are all over the place. Turn over a proverbial stone or two and look underneath.
E is to Engage – Nothing great gets accomplished in a vacuum. Stay engaged in as many relationships as you can. It doesn’t have to be a lot of work to do so. Oftentimes, we are too close to our own situation to see the forest through the trees. Asking for help or for information by engaging someone else can often make all the difference in the world. People want to be helpful and are flattered by your requests for their guidance or suggestions.
L is to Leverage – Think broadly about the resources and people who you already know. Leverage as much as you can and it will multiply itself as a result. For example, a client who currently works in a non-profit organization, but also has for-profit experience and is open to jobs in that sector told me, “All of my friends work in non-profits and they all know I am looking for a new job. They don’t know the for-profit sector. I have run out of people to talk to!” Really??? I say look beyond your close circle and think about people you know in other areas of the country, possibly distant relatives or even your neighbors – they all know other people who they can introduce you to. It’s also important to articulate what you are looking for. In order for people to be helpful to you, you must give them the information they need in order to point you toward some new resources. Tell them you are looking for information about specific professions, industries, companies or organizations so that you can focus and target your efforts in seeking employment. By talking with a wide variety of people you can increase your knowledge base and you will have many new directions to explore as your search continues.
P is for Purpose – What’s your purpose? Why are you doing this? I believe we’re all here for a reason. What are your reasons for wanting to boost your career or improve your work situation? When you are clear about the reasons, aka your purpose, you will be more compelled to seek the resources and information you need to move ahead.
Do not hesitate to ask for help. The key is to articulate it in a way that gets you more access to useful information and new people in your network. Think about it this way: If someone came to you asking for the kind of help that you need currently, how willing would you be to help them? Chances are you would be happy to offer support to another person so take a look in the mirror and start with yourself. You’ll be proud you did.