Many of my clients are “helpingpreneurs.” Service-based entrepreneurs who want to make a difference in the world.
I attended coaching school with many “helpers.” I myself have been a “helper.” (In truth I still slip into that role from time to time.)
A helper is a person who gives assistance or support.
In our society, we often identify ourselves as someone who gives help, or someone who is in need of help. We judge and categorize ourselves on some continuum, and helpers take pride in being on the giving side of things.
Many helpers believe, at some level, that the world needs their help because everyone else is messed up (in some specific way). (Note: this is generally to cover up our own fear of being imperfect!)
Brene Brown, in her book “The Gift of Imperfection,” says this:
“Until we can receive with an open heart, we are never
really giving with an open heart. When we attach judgment
to receiving help, we knowingly or unknowingly attach judgment
to giving help… We derive self worth from never needing help and
always offering it.”
I give many of my clients an assignment to ask for help.
Often they resist, and wonder why this is so important. They think it is an easy, no-brainer assigment. Then they go to do it and are surprised at their own fear.
See, Brene is right. When we can’t ask for help, we are energetically communicating with potential clients a sense of superiority. The Truth is none of us has it all together in all areas. You may be an expert in your area (probably more than you even realize), but you still need help in some areas.
Renovation of my Helper Soul
I bought a house in foreclosure in 2003. I’d been on an HGTV-watching kick, and, well, they made it look so easy! I got a loan with a renovation allowance (this house was trashed), and set out to transform my space.
I made complicated spreadsheets, I read books on rehab, researched materials, and came up with an oh-so-optimistic estimate. Six months and $60,000. No problem.
Well, 6 months later I was just finishing the first unit (it’s a 2-family). I was on track to quickly surpass my budget. And I was lonely as hell. I hired contractors for the major projects, but I did a lot of the work myself, day after day, alone.
I am a “hard worker” and I am persistent. I was not going to quit. But I was grappling with the desperation I’d begun to feel. What had I gotten myself into and how would I get myself out?
After holding onto my pride for many months, I decided it was time to tackle the biggest project of all – becoming someone who could ask for, and receive, help.
It was a humbling lesson. And a major gift.
Whether it was help with painting, lifting, or demolishing, or, often most important, showing up with pizza and an open ear, I was able to find people in my life who would help me out.
- I could actually ask for help.
- People want to help. I deprive people of the joy of giving when I pretend to have it all together.
- I didn’t die. Being the receiver of help actually felt pretty good.
- People could be responsible for saying yes or no to giving help… I didn’t have to decide for them before I asked.
- I opened the flow to a new level of connection.
- When I allow myself to be supported, I am in a better place to provide support.
- I don’t have to be perfect.
What’s this have to do with business?
If you want others to accept, and pay for, your service, you must be being of service. Being of service is not a “1-up” role. It is an “equal playing field” role in which you use your unique gifts, but don’t assume you’re any more special than your clients.
If you want others to accept, and pay for, your service, you must be willing to accept, and also sometimes pay for, the service of others in which they offer their unique gifts.
Any other behavior pattern is steeped in judgment. And that judgment repels.
This doesn’t mean you don’t stand firm as a confident expert in your area. By all means, do. But when you do so, you want to be coming from a place of knowing that you need to be served by others too. It’s a whole different energy.
Does this article resonate with you? Your assignment: Ask for help this week at least once. Give yourself permission to be imperfect and let someone know. Free yourself, I dare you!