“You’re going the wrong way!”
Hearing that is never a good sign, especially when you’re in a different country and confident you’re going the right way.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Before vacationing in Santorini, my husband decided it would be fun to rent a car there so we’d have access to all parts of the island.
(Fun fact: He’s always game to drive in other countries, even — and especially — when it’s on the side opposite from his norm, so we’ve rented cars in the UK, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, and New Zealand, and scooters in the Cook Islands.)
He planned ahead and got his international driver’s license, counting the days until he could squeeze his 6’4” frame into a small automatic car in a foreign land.
After we arrived and got the keys, it was my job to navigate while he drove. For the most part, I’m excellent with directions.*
I got us to our hotel without issue; the problem was the parking situation. As in, there was none in front of our hotel. We passed it and kept driving, thinking we’d come upon a lot. (We didn’t.)
When it was clear we needed to return to the hotel for another drive-by, we made a u-turn and proceeded to head back along the same road.
Just one teeny, tiny, eensy-weensy problem: At some point, that two-lane road had become a one-way street, and we were now going the wrong way.
Uh oh. We needed help — fast.
Fortunately, plenty of locals came to our aid, honking and waving off other cars so we could make it back unscathed to a newly-free parking spot in front of our hotel.
That’s the thing about help; once you receive it, things get much better.
But for some reason, “I need help” are probably the three hardest words to say, particularly in business.
There is no shame in asking for assistance, and in many instances (like the aforementioned Santorini incident), it can bring great relief to know that we don’t have to go it alone.
Here’s how to make it easier:
Cut yourself some slack
None of us is perfect. And no one can be an expert in all areas, nor should you try. So instead of beating yourself up because you can’t do everything yourself, practice a little self-compassion.
Realize that you’ll grow faster and go farther
Not reaching out can often keep you from making progress. If you find yourself struggling to keep promises you made to yourself, despite your best intentions, you might require an extra hand.
Consider that your ask might make someone else feel good
A friend once reminded me that not asking for help deprives others of the opportunity to be of service.
You encourage others to do so as well
When we find the courage to ask for help, modeling vulnerability, it creates a positive ripple effect, giving others permission to do the same.
It gets easier with practice
Remember that everyone needs some form of assistance at some time, and getting into the practice of asking for help becomes more comfortable over time.
And speaking of asking for help, if you want to grow your career (and really, who doesn’t?), there’s no shortage of folks who will willingly offer their counsel.
But, unfortunately, it can be tough to discern helpful guidance from the not-so-helpful, wheel-spinning stuff.
The difference often comes down to the source.
In my latest Forbes article, I share three questions to determine which people to listen to (and who to ignore) for career growth.
P.S. When I’m not writing this newsletter or driving the wrong way down one-way streets in foreign lands, I’m a social media ghostwriter. (Yep, that’s a thing). I help founders, entrepreneurs, and CXOs craft their stories to communicate and connect better by magnifying their reach and impact. (Think personal branding and thought leadership.) Learn more here.
P.P.P.S. One more thing: You have great taste in newsletters—thanks for subscribing! And if you like it, I’m betting your friends might, too. The best way to grow a newsletter is through kind folks like you sharing with your favorite people. Or better yet, invite them to join our Illuminate Me tribe by subscribing!
*True confession: There was one time when I blew it in the directions department. Years ago, when my hubby and I traveled to Lisbon, Portugal, we decided to take the local bus to see the sights. After consulting a bus schedule and noticing different lines, I suggested we hop aboard #29, which appeared to take a loop around the city. It took us places, all right, but not the ones we hoped to visit. As it turned out, it did not loop around the city but instead ceased running at its last stop, a not-so-great place on the outskirts of town. We were the only two passengers on the bus at that point, and the driver took pity on us. We hobbled together some elementary Portuguese, explaining our predicament; he used a map and some broken English to let us know that though we’d have to wait a bit, there would be another bus in 30 minutes that would return us to the city center. And in the meantime, he suggested we stay on his bus “for safety.” (We didn’t argue.)
BTW, that incident earned me a new nickname: Dieter 29. “Dieter” because on our Lufthansa flight to Portugal from SFO, all the flight attendants spoke to me in German until they realized I didn’t understand them, and “29” in honor of that bus I was so sure would take us the right way.