NCET explores business and technology
By Kevin Ciccotti
We know the adage that no one achieves success alone. If we accept that, why is it so hard to ask for help?
I work with highly successful people and those who are striving to become more successful. One of the biggest differences I see is those who are successful know they must ask for help; realizing if they rely solely on their own expertise, they will be limited in what they can accomplish.
So what stops people from asking for help more often? We all have some level of hesitation when it comes to reaching out for assistance. Here are three reasons people are hesitant to ask for help.
1. Asking for help makes us feel vulnerable. Maybe as a child, we were rewarded for being independent and solving our own problems. This sense of independence was reinforced to the point where asking for help was met with scorn, ridicule, or rejection. In a competitive environment, we can be paralyzed by the fear of seeming weak, needy, or incompetent. The challenge with not asking for help is a problem can become a crisis.
2. Asking for help creates a threat to our status. We all need to feel special and worthy of attention. The need for status is so strong that when it drops, it activates the same regions of our brain as physical pain. When we ask someone for help, we’re saying they may know more or have expertise we do not possess. That is more than enough to prevent us from asking for needed help.
3. We feel we should know the answers already. This is a challenge I’ve encountered with many clients. They tend to be high achievers, experienced in finding their own answers in situations that require creative thinking and problem solving.
While they may have achieved success through their ability to get things done, they are also tied to their own specific ways of thinking and patterns of problem solving. Those may not be what’s needed to solve the current problem. A fresh perspective from an outside source may be just what’s required.
The solution involves a few key ideas.
First, we need to be willing to ask for help. Yep, that’s right… willing to ask. It takes conscious effort and intention, but it will pay off in the long run.
Second, we have to practice asking for help. It doesn’t come naturally to most of us, so practice is required in order to cultivate the ability to reach out and ask for it. Repetition is the mother of skill.
Third, we must model the behaviors that we want our teams to emulate. If we are unwilling to ask for help, how can we expect our teams to become skilled in this practice?
Kevin Ciccotti, Certified Professional Coach, is President of Human Factor Formula, Inc. and NCET’s VP of Membership, Tech Cafe. NCET is a member-supported nonprofit that produces educational and networking events to help individuals and businesses explore and use technology. This column first appeared in the Reno Gazette-Journal.