A father watched his son try to lift a heavy stone. He failed with each attempt. After some time his father came by and asked, “Are you using all your strength?” “Yes!” the boy cried. His father looked at him and said, “No, you are not, I am here waiting and you haven’t asked for my help.”
We all come across ‘rocks’ in life that won’t budge. A helping hand goes a long way. All we have to do is ask. Unfortunately, this simple request is often as hard as moving the rock.
Growing up I always wanted to do everything myself. I was out to prove something. To prove I could do it. To prove I could succeed. To prove I didn’t need help.
I thought there was a badge of honor of going at things alone. Somehow the accomplishment is worth more if you don’t have help. I can see now that this is ridiculous. I also know what it’s called, ego.
Ego just sits there and offers bad advice. It might say “Chad, if you ask for help, you’ll look weak.” “If you ask for help, people will think you’re not smart.” “If you ask for help they might say no.” “If you ask for help you’ll be a burden.”
Once I was able to drop-kick ego, the fear associated with these questions went away. As the help flowed in, my life became a little easier, a little more fun and a lot more successful.
A little struggle is good
Asking for help is a balance. If I run out and ask for it the second an obstacle comes along, I might miss a learning opportunity. If I continue to beat my head against the wall trying to solve a problem, I won’t learn, but I will have a headache.
To help find this balance I use the 15-minute rule. I heard about it early on in my career. The concept is simple. Work through a problem for 15 minutes. During that time, I’ll give it everything I have. If after 15 minutes I’m still struggling, I’ll find someone that can help.
Asking for help in sales
Someone once told me you can win a deal on your own but there is no excuse for losing a deal on your own. The message was clear. Ask for help. A lot of it if necessary.
Everything I sold in my career was expensive. That made things complicated. There was more scrutiny and more people that had to sign off on a deal. In other words, more things could go wrong.
I took this advice to heart in my sales career. I would look for ways to bring others into a sale. I would tap our CEO, CMO, CTO or VP of Sales.
If someone could help, I wanted them on my team. In fact, I wanted an entire army backing me on every deal. Of course, not every deal needed this, but many did. I always found I was more successful using this approach than going at it alone.
Raising kids is not something anyone can prepare for and believe me we tried. We read books, talked to other parents and talked to doctors. We had nine months to mentally prepare for everything we thought would come. It didn’t matter how much we learned leading up to our first days as parents. We needed help and a lot of it.
For about four weeks we always had extra Moms, aka Grandmothers, at the house. This was terrific. Not only did we get help from family, we got help from friends. This is one of those times where we didn’t need to ask. Our friends just showed up to help. It usually came in the form of food, which was awesome!
For some reason, it was easier to accept help during this time. It might have been a lack of sleep or an overwhelming sense of responsibility. Whatever the case, the help was invaluable.
Becoming a CEO
I took my first CEO job at age 33. This wasn’t something I had planned for or even wanted at that time. When I received the offer, my first thought was “how am I going to do this job?”
My fear and doubts were so strong, I asked the people that wanted me to do the job. “Why do you think I’ll be good at this?” In my mind I wasn’t ready. But, in their minds I was.
It didn’t matter who was right, I had to figure it out and fast. I checked my network and found every CEO I knew to get advice. Those conversations were all amazing. They pulled back the veil of being a CEO and shared great insight.
It’s funny, as CEO, I was the leader of the company. I needed to have all the answers. But, once I took this role, it was clear I didn’t. In this job more than any other, I sought help. I talked to friends, I hired advisors and I hired executives with more experience. Without this group, I wouldn’t have accomplished half of what I did.
Asking for help is still hard for me today, but I’m getting better. I know I’m surrounded by loving, intelligent and hard working people. I wouldn’t hesitate to help them and I know they would do the same for me. All that’s required is setting aside my ego and fears. With that path cleared, asking becomes a lot easier.