What if you could wave a magic wand and get your biggest problem resolved? In this month’s SkillBites Show, Nancy Dunleavy, CEO and founder of Dunleavy & Associates, and imminent author of Exercise Your Ask Muscle: the no-weight workout with proven results, showed us how we can magically overcome obstacles. The magic, however, isn’t from a wand, but comes from asking for help when you need it.
People are generally willing to help others out, and yet most people don’t ask for help. This could be because asking for help is perceived as a sign of weakness or vulnerability. Many of us were taught at a young age to be independent and work things out ourselves, and asking for help conflicts with this ingrained culture.
When we do ask for help, we invariably improve our situations. Whether it’s guidance that we seek, or financial assistance, or emotional support, getting help from others generally moves us forward and makes it easier for us to overcome challenges or achieve objectives. It is well worth stepping outside our comfort zone to learn how to ask for help.
Nancy suggested that we can become more comfortable asking for help by practicing with unimportant requests, such as asking others for a recommendation for a plumber or hairdresser. As you get more comfortable with asking, then you can begin asking for help in more important areas of your life. If you are willing to help others out, you will also improve the likelihood that others will want to help you out.
Nancy explained that helping others out often results in a very positive experience for the helper. For example, she told a story of how she was talking to a young man who was serving as an intern at a company for whom Nancy was about to give a presentation. Nancy learned that the man was looking for a particular type of job. During the presentation, Nancy asked the audience whether anyone had any connections that could help the young man, and 5 people raised their hands. The young man ended up getting exactly the job he was seeking, and wrote Nancy a wonderful letter of appreciation. The buzz that that letter gave Nancy was far greater than the minimal effort she expended to help him out.
Nancy loves connecting people, and was recognized as one of the top connectors in the Philadelphia area. She gets a huge energy boost from being able to connect people to others who can help them. Nancy shared 4 tips for improving one’s ability to be a connector:
- Be curious and ask lots of questions to establish a relationship;
- Be intentional about retaining the information you receive, such as by repeating the person’s name multiple times in a conversation;
- Be prepared with a few questions you can ask, such as “is there anything I can do to help you”, or “have you read any good books lately”; and
- Maintain a spirit of gratitude. Don’t look for ways the person you are helping can reciprocate, but rather offer to help them because that’s a nice thing to do.
Nancy has set up a database for collecting stories of people whose lives were improved by getting help from others, as well as those whose lives were improved by helping someone else. If you have a good story about being helped or helping someone else, you can email that to Nancy at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And you can look for Nancy’s book next month on Amazon.com, on SkillBites.net or on her website, www.matchingmissions.com.