Monday, 8 April 2013

Asking for Help can be Tough to Master and It's Worth It.

For 10 years I managed in busy restaurants. In those years I hired countless staff, many of whom where young adults.  As a part of each new hire training I had a few personal "go to" speeches that I shared. I was relating my 'oh so wise' life lessons to a busy night in the restaurant. Its been years since I was the manager on duty, but I am still sharing these words. Maybe I had something more than I realized at the time. In fact, this same topic of personal strength and capabilities veers its well meaning yet miss-guided head, in many coaching sessions.

When I hired into the restaurant staff I would always, always, always make sure that every staff member knew that they were now a part of our team.  They were not only encouraged but expected to ask for help. That's a toughy in the restaurant business where servers have often had an unspoken competition among themselves.  But that didn't fly here. If they were going to be successful in this busy restaurant they were expected to ask for help when they needed it, and they were expected to give help whenever they could. That's how we rolled.  And we rolled through big business.   

My speech was always my opinion about personal strength and about respect for the team.

"The person who asks for help when they need it, is a much stronger person than one who knows they need it, but lets the ship go down waiting for me to notice. Because once that ship goes down we all have to work  much harder to get it back on course. Let's have a smooth night where we all work together" ~me

I would hear myself saying that but it was tough to swallow myself. I believed it. For them. We had demonstrated that it worked. And yet I was still wanting to do it all myself wherever I could.

I have grown up believing that I was the one who would get it done. In school, in any job I have ever had, I was the "Go-to". I became a master  multi-tasker.  I identified with that title in such a strong way, that I felt that any thing that need doing should be on my list. I worked long hard hours in order to get it all done. A big part of managing is learning to delegate, I know that and I can do that. But delegating and asking for help is not the same thing. And I admit that I find it difficult to ask for help. I have been giving my new hire speech to others for   y-e-a-r-s and it has taken me just as long to know that what I ask of other people is something that I can ask of myself.   

The universe holds an abundance of options. And more than one of them can feel good to me, but that doesn't mean I need to master them all.  To be needed is a feeling I have been more than comfortable with for years. I have based a lot of my own self worth on being needed by others.  Playing to my strengths is what I do. It feels good. So why was I not sharing this wonderful feeling with those around me? Who was I to deny them opportunity to play to their strengths?  Why was I keeping myself  imprisoned in the "busy" and sending out inferiority vibes to my loved ones and co-workers? That was a no one win situation. And clearly and logically I knew that if I could shift the balance and we could all be winning?


It took me some time and some real conscious effort but I no longer feel inferior (I was sending out the inferiority vibe because that's what I was feeling.) and I have learned to ask for help. I still am one to do many things and that's cool with me. That's who I am and I like me. I have learned to let others enjoy being needed and that has really deepened a few good relationships. Not only that, but this lesson has also brought with it a great sense of freedom. I no longer feel too busy to breathe and say 'thank you for today'. 'Thank you for your help'. I am the stronger person who is keeping the ship a float by using my team. I am demonstrating that it works in my life and not just in the restaurant.  I expected it of others years ago, and it feels wonderful to expect it of myself now too.  I can't help but hope that some of the young adults whom I hired and who heard the speech really heard it. I would love it if they were applying it to their lives outside of the restaurant and feeling some freedom. There is great freedom in not having to be it all in order to be wonderfully you. 

Are you overly helpful?  Are you able to let others be helpful to you? Is asking for help something that you are comfortable with or do you see it as a sign of weakness? Is it possible that we sometimes keep ourselves so busy helping others, not just because giving is good, but because we can hide there and avoid ourselves?
I'd love to hear what you think.

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Much love
Kate