Americans are obsessed with DIY. There are numerous television shows and magazines devoted to doing things yourself. There are books, blogs and You Tube videos that will teach you how to do everything from planning princess parties to plumbing.
Home Depot even built it’s tagline around the DIY craze- “You can do it, we can help.”
Despite all the advice available, most of us aren’t very good at asking for help. The long suffering woman who does everything herself is an iconic figure in literature and movies. Men notoriously won’t ask for directions. John F. Kennedy famously said, “Ask not what your country can do for you…”
Perhaps the desire to do everything ourselves stems from the fierce independence of the early settlers who had no money and few resources and had to find a way to do things themselves or die trying.
There are many reasons we might not ask for help. We don’t want to appear stupid. We don’t want to lose control. We don’t want to burden someone else or become indebted to them. Perhaps we are afraid of appearing weak, or of seeming to be a failure. Sometimes we don’t know exactly what it is we need, and sometimes we find it easier to just do it ourselves.
I come from a long line of do it yourselfers. In my family, we built, modified and repaired things ourselves. When you don’t have a lot of money, DIY is usually the cheaper option. Calling in a professional is the last resort. This is the framework I know best and am comfortable with.
Two conversations I had today opened my eyes to another way.
My partner and I are about to launch a new business supporting beginning teachers. We have worked on it for months. I have done a lot of technological work, learning as I go and investing far more time than money to learn the skills I needed. It has been a slow process, and I’ve been feeling the struggle and am now facing a time crunch. What began as a labor of love has become a challenge.
I ran into a friend who works with small businesses, and he asked about my business and what I have been up to. I explained that our web site is almost ready. We have a new email and automation system, a membership site, a learning management system and a payment gateway set up and ready to go. He looked impressed and asked me who our developer was.
I didn’t know what he meant. That might be a good sign that I am not very tech savvy.
He wanted to know who I had hired to do the work. When I said that I had done it, he was incredulous. “You must be exhausted,” he said, “that is a lot of work for a developer, never mind someone who is also a content creator. Just creating the content alone is a huge job.”
I nodded, and admitted I was feeling a little overwhelmed.
Later I met with my coach. After updating her on my progress, she asked what I need to do in order to move forward.
I outlined the work left to be done and as I talked, I felt a lack of energy and enthusiasm. She asked me what would make it easier.
I joked that I needed a magic wand, or maybe a cavalry.
Her response was simple, “Who could you hire?”
It was so obvious. I’ve been running and kicking like a two-year-old who is screaming, “I can do it myself.”
It doesn’t have to be so hard.
I am working on creating a life I love. I have worked hard; I’ve paid my dues. But when the work becomes so overwhelming that I don’t feel excited about it, I am stepping away from the life I want to live.
It was time to admit that I needed help. I called in the Cavalry. Two phone calls and a couple of emails later I felt a whole lot better. I am hiring people to do what they do best so that I can focus on what I do best.
My energy and enthusiasm are back. It turns out that asking for help is better than a magic wand.
What about you? Do you ask for help when you need it or do you have a little of that stubborn two-year-old who wants to do everything herself in you? I’d love to hear your thoughts.