Don’t Be Too Stubborn To Accept Career Help
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.
You don’t always know what you need
When you’re just starting out in your career—or really at almost any point in your career—you may not even know what you need to do next. You may not know what sort of help you need. It’s important to just reach out and ask someone in-the-know for help because they may very well say, “Oh, no, no, no. That’s not the favor you need at this point. This is the favor you need at this point.” You’ll be glad you asked.
Honoring your superiors will get you far
I’ve seen it happen many times: some young go-getter comes out of nowhere and starts trying to compete with individuals light years ahead of her, rather than trying to collaborate with them, and in no way admitting that she’s sort of just copying them. That’s fine—copying is a great form of flattery. But only if you acknowledge you’re doing it, and pay homage to the person you’re copying. Sometimes, refusing to ask for help could leave you making a lot of enemies with people who are far more established (aka powerful) than you are.
You have help to offer, too
Don’t forget that no favor will ever 100 percent be a one-way deal. You always have help you can offer, too. When you go to someone powerful and ask for help, you can always offer something in return. Something—anything. Maybe it’s something small. But you can probably be of help to them in some way, too.
Not getting help can leave you blind
Those who don’t ask for career help usually don’t collaborate, either. They just want to do everything on their own, and somehow rise to the top without shaking hands or bumping shoulders with a single person in their industry. Here’s the problem with that: isolating yourself like that leaves you blind to what’s going on in your industry. Is someone else already doing what you’re doing? Is there a new industry standard you’re falling beneath or breaking? You have blinders on when you don’t accept help, and that can leave you looking like a fool.
People will withhold opportunities
If you never ask for help, people will believe that you don’t need help. As such, if they do get an opportunity to pass onto somebody else, you won’t be anywhere near the top of their list of people to give it to. You’ve always given off the vibe that you’re doing just fine on your own, so why would they think of you for this opportunity?
An offer of help is a compliment
You should also know that when someone truly powerful and influential in your industry offers you help, it’s a compliment. Turning it down is insulting to this person. She is offering you help because she sees potential in you—not because she thinks you’re helpless. Take it as a compliment.
You’ll always keep helping yourself
Just because you start accepting help doesn’t mean you’ll become helpless, weak, and lost. You’ll always continue to help yourself. Receiving help from others is just a cherry on top of the sundae that you’re mostly building alone. Nobody will attribute all of your success to somebody else in the end—it’ll still be on you.
People help those who help themselves
Really, people like to help those who help themselves. If you are basically your own self-sustaining machine who is making a lot of progress on her own, it won’t bother people when you ask for their help. Those in power often like to be a part of the success story of someone who is clearly going places—which you are, if you’ve already been helping yourself.
Literally, all the greats do it
I promise you that all the greats do it. Every person you admire and think the world of can probably name at least one person if not many who were influential in moving their careers along. Everybody has that person who gave them their first break, their first publicity, their first investment, their first big push…
Including the person you’re asking
Even the person you are asking for help once got help. Think about that. When you fear that she’ll look at you and think, “Can’t you do this on your own” know that one day, she was in your exact position. She asked for help of somebody. And somebody said yes. That’s why she is where she is today. She’ll probably think, “Good for you” when you ask for help.
You will repay the favor
You’ll repay the favor too, won’t you. If you manage to become very successful and be in a position of some power, you’ll help the person who helped you. If you can promote her, hire her, collaborate with her, or introduce her to somebody, you will. You’re not looking for a hand out here. Once you build your thing, you will help this person right back.
Or, you’ll pay it forward
Maybe you’ll pay it forward, too. You’ll be grateful. You’ll be humble. You’ll understand how much this person’s help did for you, and when you see someone young and struggling to do it alone, you’ll pay it forward by helping her. You become a part of that cycle of strong women who lift each other up when you ask for help.
Rejecting help looks narcissistic
Turning down offered help by those who know what they are doing makes you look narcissistic, and perhaps a little dumb. When your peers or superiors hear of you turning down this help, they won’t say, “Wow. How ballsy.” They’ll say, “Wow. How stupid.”