Do You Struggle with Asking for Help?

Modern western culture is built on the notion of upward mobility. We are quick to celebrate the success stories of people who started out with next to nothing, yet through their own ingenuity and hard work, managed to rise to the occasion and become self-made millionaires. Or even billionaires.

As a society, we prize self-efficacy and self-reliance. We want to do things for ourselves (or at least we think we do), because we see it as a sign of strength. By extension, asking for help can be seen as a sign of weakness.

The Cost of Doing Business

I’ve faced this very conundrum more times than I care to count over the course of my 10-year freelance writing career. I am a solopreneur is the purest sense of the word, because my business has a total employee count of one: me. I am the writer, the editor, the webmaster, the accountant, the customer service agent, the marketer, the publicist and the administrator. I wear many hats, oftentimes at the same time.

Part of the difficulty in asking for help is a matter of finance. It costs money to hire a lawyer, an accountant or a web designer. These are investments in the business, to be sure, but they are costs nonetheless. Even so, the issue of money is ultimately far less profound than the psychological ramifications of reaching out for a helping hand.

Control Freaks and Elitism

For me, some of it has to do with a sense of control. I started my freelance writing business partly because I wanted to be in charge. I wanted to revel in the joys of ownership. If I were to outsource certain tasks or otherwise ask for assistance, I would have to relinquish some of that control. By delegating, I’m putting my trust in the skills, talents and idiosyncrasies of others.

And this leads to a tangentially-related issue. Because of the independent and self-sufficient mindset, it’s easy to feel like the best person for the job is me. Other people can’t do it, whatever “it” may be, as well as I can, so I don’t and can’t let go. At the same time, I can come to question my own ability, leading to the paradox of the humble elitist. I am both better and worse than everyone else.

There is also the issue of confrontation. I don’t want to bother someone else with my troubles, so I keep them to myself. These troubles could be related to my work, to my personal life or to my psychological well-being. I am non-confrontational by nature and I can feel like asking for help puts both of us in an unnecessarily uncomfortable position.

If You Want to Go Far…

All this said, taking on all of life’s challenges on your own is far too much of a burden for a single person to bear. That’s the objective reality. Many hands make light work and asking for help doesn’t make you weak. We are stronger when we work together, so just ask. The most successful people in the world didn’t do it alone, so why should you?