Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Just Ask

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Several years ago a former employer informed me of one of my weaknesses. I don’t like to ask for help. Sometimes I approach tasks in different ways than most people and my process is difficult to explain. Other times, I find it takes more time to communicate what I’ve done, where I am in the project, and how to go forward with it, than it does to just do the job myself. Now, when I am put into a new situation, in which that or any other weakness may hinder my overall goal, I find someone who can hold me accountable to achieving my objectives. That accountability comes in different ways, depending on the circumstance, but the trick is to never try to be a one man show.

Throughout my life, I have discovered that when I am upfront with the right people (remember, I said the right people) about my weakness, those people are wonderful at holding me accountable, not allowing my weaknesses to get the best of me, and thus allowing my strengths to shine. In a recent position I held, I communicated with my employer on almost a daily basis my successes and my failures, he asked me what roadblocks I saw in front of me, and what he could do to help me overcome those roadblocks.

Recently, I began hosting my site on a non- WYSIWYG (the link defines it) platform. For the past year I had been able to take care of making the necessary changes to my web site myself; though, when I switched to this non-WYSIWYG platform, and uploaded my website, the results were not what I wanted. I called the host company, and they informed my that my coding was a mess, but they also informed me that that was an issue they could not help me with (I hadn’t paid them enough and I couldn’t afford any more). Being the frugal person I am, I decided to learn HTMl and fix the problem myself. Well, my knowledge of HTML extends as far as being able to downsize social media snippets. It took me a few weeks to admit that I was in over my head, but I finally bit the bullet and asked for help.

Now, I am at the mercy of a friend who said he’d take a look at it and fix it when he had a chance. He’s doing it as a favor to me, so I must practice patience. To be honest, I want to fix the problem, but I need to recognize my weakness. At the same time, because I reached out to another friend of mine, due to my dwindling client list, I will speak with her today about taking on one of her clients. I believe both of these people offered to help me, because they realize that sometime success means paying forward what someone else paid forward to you.

Sometimes, I wonder what opportunities I missed during my early adult life because I refused to ask for directions, but I don’t dwell on it. I just move forward. Now, in my early thirties, sometimes feeling not much further ahead than those a decade younger than me—in some ways even behind—I continue to press forward. I’m better today than I was in my early twenties at finding people who know more than me and can help me to overcome my weakness, but sometimes I just like to think I can do everything myself.

In the end, I think one of the best ways to connect is to recognize our weakness, find those people who can help us overcome our weakness, and ask them for help. I believe people respect people who realize their limitations, yet don’t allow those limitations to limit their successes. I believe one of the best ways to connect with people is to realize that we may be ugly ducklings within certain contexts, but sometimes it just takes the right flock of swans to help us realize our true potential.

Until next week, Keep connecting,

Erick

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