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Why is it so hard asking for help?

I have always hated asking for help…until now…

Hi, I had a lovely lunch with a couple of beautiful ladies a few weeks back, and I said I thought my clients were struggling to accept help or admit they need it, one of them turned to me and said in what areas of your life are you not asking for help? I’d never thought of it like that before, but what you attract is what you put out there and I had the realization that I’ve never liked asking for help, as a kid i’d always try and figure it out myself, even with my homework, I didn’t like asking my parents. My Mum was a teacher and was great if you did have a question but I still shied away from asking. I don’t remember ever asking a teacher for help if I didn’t understand, and I managed to apply for university on my own, and then I even managed to get through a 4 year Bachelor of Accounting Honours degree, without ever raising my hand or asking a question! I was forced to have one meeting with a tutor to discuss my dissertation/thesis, as it was a course requirement, and even though he was helpful, I never went back to see him when I was struggling or changed direction (somehow I managed to get a 1st class mark but not sure how).

I then made it through 3 years studying to be a Chartered Accountant, with incredibly hard exams, without asking for any help, even when I didn’t understand, I just decided I’d eventually understand if i kept at it, or pray it wasn’t in the exam, I’m sure I could have benefitted from some tutoring, as I was literally on the edge of a nervous breakdown when I had to resit my exams, but i got through them- just! I remember thinking my life would be over if i didn’t pass them as there was nothing else in the world i could imagine myself doing, I wish 23 year old Jo could see me now, she’d be shocked!

I then ironically had a job for 5 years as an auditor, where asking client questions was the main part of the job, no wonder I hated every moment of it,  I would collect my questions for days, try and work out the answer to avoid bothering the client, and try not to look stupid asking the questions. You’ll be shocked to know the trend continued for the rest of my 13 year accounting career (I know i don’t look old enough!) 🙂  I also HATED performance reviews, actually getting feedback or talking about myself was painful for me, even if it was usually positive. Looking back it’s like it was a different person.

But what’s changed? Well, I’m not sure exactly why I didn’t think I was worthy of asking for help or why I was so terrified to look like i didn’t know the answer. that’s a whole other topic. But it all started with the decision that I was worth it, and I deserved to have support and I wasn’t afraid to look at myself for who I was and accept it, warts and all (not that i have any warts but you know what i mean)!

Screen Shot 2015-03-30 at 15.04.15This is me (right) with my mentor Gina DeVee (centre) and my Mastermind partner Melissa Pharr (left).

Now I’m the first to put my hand up and ask a question. I don’t sit at the back with my eyes down hoping to suddenly become invisible. And I also ask for feedback at every opportunity and I’m beginning to enjoy getting it. I used to take it all so personally, but now I can see, without feedback, how do you know how to improve? I no longer see feedback as criticism, but as an opportunity to learn and grow.  I know I don’t know everything, and i’m not afraid to admit it.

The last thing I ever  wanted was my own coach, but without a doubt, investing in myself was the best thing I ever did, I’m still far from perfect, but that’s ok, I love and accept who I am and who I’m becoming, and it’s exciting to know i’m only getting better!

What advice would you give to your younger self? If you just had to make one decision and it would change your life, what would it be?

Jo XX

P.S. If you need help, I’m just a click away, and always happy to talk! x

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