Everybody would love to be completely self-made and to be able to say that they got where they are with no help. But, it’s nearly impossible to get a leg up in life without a little help. Unless you are literally creating a new industry, the preexisting powers at be in your industry will always be the gatekeepers. They will always have some say over how things go for you. They will always have the ability to help you along, or to keep you in your place. We have to have respect for those who came before us, and we have to recognize that they got where they are because they know what they’re doing.
I don’t think there is a successful or impressive human alive who can honestly say she got where she is without the help of some generous mentors and benefactors. It’s important to acknowledge that if you’ve been too proud to take some help, believing that the greats never did. They did. I promise you. You won’t be any less respected in your industry if you accept help. In fact, it shows wisdom on your part when you do look to those ahead of you for a little assistance. It shows humility, and the ability to admit that there is always something to be learned.
Refusing to accept help doesn’t even make you stronger or more revered. It actually does quite the opposite. You isolate yourself when you refuse to accept help. Remember that sometimes, when people offer you career assistance, it would be a mutually beneficial arrangement. Being a lone wolf says to others, “I don’t play well with others.” That won’t do you any good in the long run. So, are you too proud to accept career help? Don’t be.
People (often) like to be asked
The truth is that most leaders in your industry probably like it when people ask for their help or their opinion. They worked hard to earn their status—to create their platform—and they are typically happy to pass on their wisdom. When you ask them for help, you are acknowledging that they have power and wisdom, which is a nice ego stroke.
If they don’t, that’s okay
I won’t lie and say there aren’t any successful individuals who don’t like to be hit up for help. It’s all about whom you ask and how you ask. If you’re just starting out in your industry, don’t track down a leader’s email address (by unethical and sneaky means) and ask her for help. Who are you to her? That favor is premature. People you don’t know well and haven’t helped or worked with may not like when you ask for help. But, if the relationship is right, it’s usually okay.