Pride and Fear

  1. Pride of “I figure things out myself”.
  2. Fear of getting a “No”.

These two emotions paralyze us and stop us from asking for help, even in times when we really need it and even when there are people out there who would love to help us.

We tend to rethink and reconsider how to ask for help. We get careful and hesitate asking for support. Friends, coworkers, and acquaintances can support us and would like the opportunity to do so.

But we don’t want to look needy, vulnerable, clueless or weak. We try to figure everything out ourselves and stress ourselves more than needed. We don’t want to bother or annoy people asking for their time, money, introductions, and guidance. We fear getting a no and being rejected.

We keep wondering and suffering alone, waiting until we have the perfect thing to offer to people before asking for help. Humility, curiosity and courage are three emotions thatvcan help us here. Inviting people in the process of learning, creating, iterating, and figuring things out requires us to have the courage to be vulnerable and we need more humility and curiosity to put our pride and fear away.

Let me tell you this. Once we open the kimono, people drop their apprehensions and tend to trust us more. They feel validated for their value, skill and judgement in our lives and they love to contribute in making something worthwhile happen.

If people can see themselves in a project, they will be proactive in contributing to its progress. Asking for help makes both sides build further trust and appreciation in our relationship.

You can :

  • Ask for feedback.
  • Ask for an Intro.
  • Ask for funding.
  • Ask for new ideas.
  • Ask for hands-on load-sharing.
  • Ask for a retweet.
  • Ask for tool recommendation.
  • Ask for a therapy call.
  • Ask for help with humility, sincerity and curiosity.

How to Ask

Before you request for help, dig a bit about how you can best access the person you want to ask for help from. To give you a structured mold to use while you learn how to ask for help with sincerity and without feeling ashamed, I’m including a few pointers. Give a one liner about each of these, in your request:

  • Who you are (clear, concise and memorable persona)
  • Why you care about them (their work, life or principles)
  • Why you care about the world they are working on (their domain of practice)
  • What you need help on (a link/attachment that showcases what you’re working on)
  • How can they help you (specific questions, or specific requests for help)
  • Let them know how their help will tangibly improve your life (picture of a better future)
  • Let them know saying a “No” is okay (and it wouldn’t impact your perception of them)

This should get you started. Like all things in practice, you should be iterate on it by your insights you glean from your own experiences.

Also, you will adapt on which pointer to emphasize most in which context. If you are asking for funding, your proof-of-work pointer will require more consideration than if you’re asking for a therapy call.

P.S. - If you have something to add or want to discuss this, let me know on Twitter by tweeting with #daybrew. You can ask for my help too. Drop me a quick email.