When you look at any successful person, be they a writer, artist, CEO, soldier, mother, or father, each one will tell you that they got where they are today because of guidance or help from someone. Maybe a teacher, tutor, parent, partner, or mentor.

Did you know not everyone knows how to ask for help?

While some people don’t believe they are deserving of help, others believe it is a sign of weakness or ignorance. I bring this up, today, because I’m one of those people who doesn’t know how to ask for help. Just like the Beatles song Help!:

When I was younger, so much younger than today,
I never needed anybody’s help in anyway.
But now these days are gone, I’m not so self assured,
Now I find I’ve changed my mind, I’ve opened up the doors.

A few years ago, I took “Happiness Coaching” from Dr. Aymee Coget and during the three months of coaching I had to get several friends and acquaintances to write about my three strongest traits. I was humbled by everything that was said about me. And there was one thing that came up with nearly every person: “I always know I can count on Eric to help and I wish he’d ask for help in return,” paraphrased, of course.

Well, it’s almost over two years since that coaching and that phrase has been bubbling up from my subconsciousness quite a bit.

So I started asking

A few months ago, I started vocalizing to my friends, family, and associates that I might need some help, but I didn’t know in what way yet. They all said, “Just let me know!”

I did some research to see what malady or bad wiring I had in my head that keeps me from asking for help, and determined I didn’t fit in any of the categories listed. I don’t believe I don’t deserve help. I don’t feel arrogant that I know everything. And I’m not afraid of looking stupid. I blog after all, right?

Now, when I say “Ask for help,” I don’t mean, “Can you help me move?” or “Can you help me with a job?” or “Can you give me a ride?” or “Can you take over my bookkeeping?” Those are all easy enough for me, (except the bookkeeping one).

No. Mine are bigger and more complex. At least, maybe they are.

My problems to solve?

I came to the conclusion that I, somehow, got in my head at a very young age that I either HAVE TO solve all problems by myself, OR I should ALWAYS attempt to solve problems on my own before bothering anyone with my problem.

One of the vivid memories I have from when I was about 10 years old, before my brother was born, was telling my mom about a nightmare I had. She was concerned and asked me, “Who do you turn to when you’re scared at night?” I didn’t know the answer. She asked, “You don’t wake your dad or I up at night, do you ask God to protect you?” I remember looking at her funny and saying, “Mom, I just get up and go to the bathroom. That’s what nightmares are for, to wake you up so you don’t wet the bed.”

I also have come to believe that I have gone through a series of disappointments or bad advice that has also led me to the practice of solving all the problems first before either giving up, or finding some outside help. I won’t go into details, but there have been several major ones that have recently come to mind while pondering this affliction.

Of course, I also have realized I’ve probably let people down too. A few of those have sprung to mind, which I will go work on correcting immediately.

Peggy Collins, author of Help is Not a Four Letter Word, says that people who suffer from “Self-Sufficiency Syndrome” (clever), can and do suffer from burn out quite a bit. On a cursory examination of the book (now on order for myself), shows some interesting connections in needing to ‘control’ things in life. I don’t see that for myself, but will delve into it more deeply.

“ERIC! Are you going to ask or what?”

So, here I am writing an article called “HELP!” and I haven’t asked for anything.

Typical, eh? (I’d laugh, but probably shouldn’t).

Tina GuoSince you can only lead a horse to water and you can’t make ‘him’ drink (which, unfortunately makes me the horse), maybe I should start making a list of areas where my skills aren’t strong.

Rising Superstar (in my opinion) Cellist, Tina Guo (who plays classical and hard rock (serious yin & yang)…check out her signature piece Queen Bee), is one of four social entrepreneurs I’m following and trying to connect with. They have shown me that while you CAN do a lot of things on your own, you should surround yourself with people who support your passion. Synergize with others to create, pay people who do things easily that you have to work hard to do, and spend your time doing what you love.

It also helps to read lots of self-help, motivational, and inspirational materials to propel you forward (thus gaining textual mentors from many eras). And I’m talking self-help books from interpersonal skills to business skills.

By the way, the other three social entrepreneurs I admire are Chris Guillebeau (The Art of Non-Conformity), Seth Godin (Purple Cow, Tribes, and Linchpin books), and Felicia Day (Actress, Writer, and Gamer: Dragon Age: RedemptionThe Guild, Dr. Horrible’s Sing-A-Long Blog, and Eureka).

Is it possible I don’t ask for help because I don’t want to bother others with my ‘stuff?’ Or is it I only want help from others who wish to use their passions to help?

Let’s start with this…

How do you recognize when you truly need help?

Thanks for reading. Thanks for any help you’ve given me (or may give in the future). And remember these words by the Beatles (but my favorite rendition by Joe Cocker), “I get by with a little help from my friends.”