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Asking for Help: For the Strong or the Weak?

Ever felt like asking for help made you seem weak? Or not good? Or embarrassed? Me too. But asking for help is the only way to grow.

Confession time. 

I’m a perfectionist. I’m well educated. I’m a hard worker. I’m a Type A Personality (Type A Personality = A temperament characterized by excessive ambition, aggression, competitiveness, drive, impatience, need for control, focus on quantity over quality and unrealistic sense of urgency).

I like to bite off more than I can chew. I enjoy being in front of things both professionally and personally. I am neat. I am organized. I am clean. I want to always be seen as a good daughter, wife, sister, aunt, friend, coach, facilitator.

I strive to be perfectly healthy. I eat healthy food. I exercise regularly. I get 8 hours of sleep regularly.

And all of those qualities have served me well in my lifetime. These qualities have propelled me through a successful corporate career. These qualities got me to, and through, my health certification training. These qualities kicked in when I quit my job to start my own Executive Health and Leadership Coaching business. These qualities helped me secure a gig with Thrive Global as an Executive Coach and Corporate Facilitator.

But these qualities are exhausting. And frankly, these qualities are non attainable on a regular basis. No one can keep up that pace. No. One.

And frankly, no one should. Not me. Not you. Not anyone.

No one can do it all. No one can be great at everything. Eventually all of that perfect, goal attaining, over committed, constantly striving for better ridiculousness has to end.

Firstly because all work and perfection makes Gayle a very annoying person!

But more importantly, because no one is perfect. No one knows everything. No one is good at everything.

Rj and I have decided on our 2020 BIG GOAL – we’re going to walk from one side of England to the other. This is called the Coast to Coast hike, and if interested, take a look at what we are in for here. (We are not using National Geographic as our guide – Rj is doing all the planning!). If you are interested in following our lead up (training, planning, etc.), sign up for my email list! I’ll be sending out weekly updates. And, we do plan to document our trip through blog/video, so stay tuned!

Back to goals and help. When we first agreed that we would do this crazy long hard hike, Rj immediately started booking B&Bs! (Nope, I don’t camp. Shower, food, a pint of beer or glass of wine, and a mattress – these are my requirements!). I, of course, started planning our health program to get us ready.

We need to lose a few pounds because every extra pound we have on our bodies is one additional pound we have to carry for 182 miles. Incentive, right?

Then there is the physical training. We’ve done a lot of hiking (the Alps, Mt. Everest Base Camp, Annapurna Circuit Nepal, weeklong trips in England, France and Italy – some of those photos us are posted here and here). Some of those hikes we did while we were in good shape. Others we did when we were in not so good shape.

And right now, we are in the latter bucket. Sure, we’ve gotten ourselves back on track in the past few months, but one forgets how long it takes from out of shape to hike 182 miles in shape!

So here we are, away from our regular gym for 3 months. But we know what we have to get done in 8 months. So off to the local gym we went earlier this week.

With our monthly short term membership, we got the obligatory ‘personal training session’. We both rolled our eyes. What could they possibly tell us that we don’t already know? We know we need to lose a few pounds. We know we need to do squats and build strength.

We decided to blow off our appointment. The problem was, we forgot to cancel our appointment. Monday night we got the email that we were to report to Tyler at 9am Tuesday morning.

We went with low expectations. We knew everything. We just had to do what we knew and we’d be OK! Then we got introduced to Tyler and confirmed our suspicions – from the looks of him, there wasn’t anything he could help us with.

Tyler ran our numbers. He explained fat/muscle loss/growth equations. He talked to us like he knew what it meant to hike 182 miles at 53 years old. He shared data, examples and experience that neither Rj nor I had.

Interesting I thought – and did I actually just learn something?

Then came the 30 minute workout. We were fully prepared to do a full workout after Tyler’s 30 minutes because come on, right? Could he really help us with anything in 30 minutes.

Tyler Kicked. Our. Asses. And in doing so, we both learned a lot about the way our bodies move, reasons why you want to focus on full range of motion in exercises vs. weight or reps., and other little tid bits that we both finally admitted were extremely helpful.

To our surprise, Tyler helped make us stronger.

Every day of our lives we strive to be our best. Or better. Eat right. Exercise. Parent our kids. Knock the socks off our bosses. Make sure to be loving and supportive of our partners. Maintain a clean/comfortable home. Sleep 7-9 hours. Then for extra credit, contribute to community, after school activities, friends, extended family.

But we can’t do it all by ourselves.

To be our best, to improve our best and to support our best we need help.

Meal delivery services. Personal trainers. Babysitters. House cleaners. Landscapers. Laundry services. Amazon overnight delivery.

Your partner. Your siblings. Your colleagues at work. Your parents. Your friends.

Whether resources that you have to pay for or resources that surround you every day, help is everywhere.

Let’s talk about the resources you have to pay for for a minute. Yes, we all have different financial situations, but I encourage you to consider how much your time, mental and physical health are worth to you.

Example – cleaning my house is a chore that I hate. Spending a full Saturday every two weeks cleaning stresses me out and makes me pretty angry. During years where Rj and I were living really close to a tight budget, hiring a cleaner was out of the question.

But my mood on cleaning days was impacting our relationship. Seriously, I am that bad and hate cleaning that much.

So I told Rj that unless he wanted to pick up the chore, then I was going to hire a cleaner for $100 every two weeks. $200/month. The money would come out of our dining/food budget. I’d figure it out.

Rj picked up the cleaning for exactly one Saturday, and two weeks later we had a cleaner. Everything is figureoutable.

How about our uncomfortableness asking others for help? We feel bad. We feel weak. We feel defeated. We show our vulnerability when we ask for help, right?

OK, another example for you. When Rj and I were first married, I felt that the nightly meal preparation was my responsibility. Sure, I enjoy cooking and I even more, I enjoy managing the menu.

But I was working full time. I would get home late. And sometimes, I just needed not to cook! We were on a tight budget at the time, and meal delivery services didn’t yet exist, so going out for dinner was not an option.

Someone had to cook. And the resentment that that person had to be me was growing at a very rapid pace.

One night, over a plate of macaroni and cheese with hot dogs, Rj said to me, “I’m sick of macaroni and cheese with hotdogs for dinner. Can we have something else tomorrow?”

I’m not sure I fully remember how that plate got itself from our table to land on the wall across the room, but I suspect my resentment had something to do with that mess.

“Sure! Why don’t you plan the menu, go shop for the food, and cook whatever you want tomorrow night!!!!” I said.

Rj replied, “OK. Cool. On It.”

“What?! OK? Cool? On it? Why haven’t you said that to me before?”

“Because you never asked me. I thought you enjoyed cooking and didn’t want to step on your toes.”

Perfectionist, over achiever, do everything perfect Gayle – meet it’s OK to ask for help Gayle. She is a much nicer person!

I’m not saying we have it all figured out – please, refer to my initial confessions! What I am saying is that to figure it out, we all need to ask for help.

We don’t know everything.
We aren’t good at everything.
We don’t want to do everything.
We aren’t expected to do everything.

We are not perfect.
We can always be better.
There are only so many hours in a day.
Being resentful/stressed/angry because we don’t want to do something is not a good look.

Don’t ever believe that asking for help is a weakness. It takes a strong person to admit when they need help. And asking for that help only makes you stronger.

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