Asking for help is a direct reflection on how personally secure you are as a leader.
Paradoxically, I’ve learned I am much better at giving than asking. What’s that about huh? And how are you at the art of asking?
When leaders ask for help, genuine help, they are doing three significant things:
- Demonstrating humility in the fact you know that you don’t know.
- Recognising your tribe as a whole is greater than the individuals.
- Providing a platform for new growth opportunities and genuine co-creativity.
People don’t ask for help for a few reasons, Lisa Ferentz from psychologytoday.com refers to that nagging fear and lack of courage to reach out, the sense of feeling weak or a failure, and the deep impact of our family of origin and how it has influenced our ‘asking’ script. These patterns are reflected in both our life and leadership. They especially show up at the more challenging times, when your leadership is stretched, your resources are low, and your options are few.
Gregg Levoy echoes this sentiment, after noting men were choking to death in Manhattan restaurant bathrooms, because they wouldn’t ask for help where he says, “The refusal to ask for help is a kind of arrogance, a blind insistence on doing it all by yourself no matter what, because along with it comes the message that no one’s help is worth the price in vulnerability it will cost you, that ultimately no one can console you or ease your pain, and no one is that strong if you yourself aren’t. Such cussedness betrays a tremendous lack of faith in others, in the tensile strength of love and friendship, and in your own ability to survive embarrassment. Resourceful people, however, gather their resources and join forces.”
The thoroughly alternate Amanda Palmer shares her story of learning to ask and does it with epic creativity in her TED Talk. Her wild ride from street artist to industry disrupting musician is held together by a narrative of humility, creativity, connection, trust and a train load of ‘sticking it to the man’. In it she says, “And I fell into those thousands of connections and I asked my crowd to catch me.” Her poetic reflection on life as the ‘Eight Foot Bride’, then onto a rollercoaster adventure in the music industry, is a one woman, choose your own adventure. In which she spans the life experiences of life in the home of undocumented immigrants, through to raising over $1.1 million dollars to fund an album that is now a book, and a brand well beyond her creative intentions at the time.
Asking for help has as it’s fundamental premise, courageous relationships. We love openly, consistently and fiercely. It is equally bounded by the beauty of liberating interdependence, I do not control you, nor you me. We serve one another. It equally stands for three profound truths:
- Authentic purpose. Asking comes from truth and purity of intent.
- Bold humility. Asking seeks the best for both giver and receiver.
- Real connections. Asking says ‘you know me and you see me’ and moves toward one another.
As leaders I hope you know your superpower and use it to serve others consistently. It’s your fears and vulnerabilities this speaks to . What have you done because you haven’t asked or shared the desire need or dream? What’s the worst that could happen when you do? Asking is just a little bit easier now isn’t it?
Asking from a place of authentic purpose, bold humility and real connections set up the platform for three beautiful deep exchanges once the ‘ask is out there’ they are:
- Explicit Support. When you have purpose and humility others can raise their hand to help.
- Empowered Tribes. Purpose and connection serve empowerment and momentum.
- Deep Engagement. Humility and connection reflect deep engagement and commitment.
Support, empowerment and engagement is the result of asking with purpose, humility and connection. Truth is, everyone wins. What do you need to ask for this week, that there is most likely someone already ready to respond?
Ask, and fall into the crowd waiting to catch you.
This is for leaders. I am for leaders.