If you ask my Mum what the first words out of my mouth were she would say this … “No Mummy – I can do it.”
Right from the get go I had this attitude (which I apparently came ingrained with) that I do not need help or advice – ‘Lisa knows best’ … I can do it all by myself.
At times this has infuriated my mother.
And at times it has been a great source of entertainment too! Like the time when I was about 5-years-old and she suggested that perhaps I should not be riding my bike up on the porch … and if you listen to her account of the event, she offered to help get my bike down onto even ground and to a space where I had more space to ride… but in true Lisa style … “No Mummy, I can do it” … and I did … until I fell off the porch … with my bike … into the rose garden. *Ouch*
Thankfully apart from a few grazes, the thing that was hurt the most that day was my pride.
On reflection it should have been an incredible teaching moment. So much depth in one instance of stubbornness. It is okay to ask for help. It is okay to listen to advice.
But no … the stubborn streak remained a key part of who I was.
For some reason there is something in my head that tells me my competence in any given task will be measured by my ability to work things out and do things on my own.
School. University. Jobs. Living overseas. Running a business.
When friends, family or colleagues ask me if I need help I have this one instinctive answer “No – I’m fine I can do it.”
It’s an instant answer. Out of my mouth before I even think about it.
And quite frankly it’s nuts.
Because as important as it is to grow up competent and independent, able to figure things on your own (something I like to preach about a lot) … It is also equally important to be smart and ask for help and advice when you need it.
This is something I personally need to work on daily. And when it comes to your career this is something we ALL need to learn to master.
Firstly, your career does not need to be a solo journey, especially when it comes to CV’s, cover letters, job hunting, career paths or problems you are facing. Talking about these things and asking for help does not make you any less of a successful or competent human being.
Actually, I would argue that the most competent people are those who acknowledge that they don’t know it all and are willing to ask for help. There is so much to do with your career that you will learn along the way … you don’t have to know it all when you are right at the beginning of your journey.
And more to the point, there are SOOOO many people out there who want to share their advice and the things they have learned throughout their journeys … all you have to do is ask.
Secondly … once you do land that job you have spent so many years working towards … don’t think you need to know it all on day one. Actually, don’t think you do know it all on day one … because trust me … you don’t.
Of course there are things you should know, and I guarantee there will be things you need to teach yourself along the way … but there is nothing more infuriating than working with someone who pretends to know it all. And even when you can see they are struggling and offer to help, you get the brush off “no no, I’m fine” comment.
Trust me, I have used the line far too many times in my life.
Whilst your intention is good and you don’t want to be a burden, what you are missing is that it can be soooooo much quicker and less painful for everyone if you simply say “I need a bit of help”.
So next time you are struggling with something, be it university, career stuff or things in your personal life … take a moment to reflect.
Is this something you need to push through on alone? Or could you make your life not only easier but the outcome better if you stop and ask for help.
And if you don’t want to believe me. I will leave you with the ever wise words of John Lennon …