There’s a new opportunity before you. It’s big and it’s exciting. It’s also outside of your wheelhouse. Sure, the skills you’ve worked hard to hone will be useful. You’ve got the foundational pieces you need to tackle this endeavor, but there’s also a lot you don’t know. It’s a bit intimidating. At this point you have two choices: You can admit what you don’t know and look for the resources to support your success, or you can pass on this opportunity in favor of staying in your comfort zone. If the latter means you’ve settled for second best, you may miss out on your greatest joy and fulfillment.
Your ability to ask for and receive support will help you define and develop your lifescape much more quickly than you could by going it alone. We all need others to lean on and learn from, especially during times of personal inquiry and transformation. Don’t let the fact that you’re not already perfect at what you want to do stop you from laying the groundwork necessary to move in that direction. Still not convinced? Keep reading.
Curiosity Leads to Growth
If you’ve ever spent an hour with a young child, you’ve probably lost count of the number of times your little friend asked “Why?” By nature, children are inquisitive. They realize that they have so much about the world to learn and they are determined to do so. Then we get a little older and we start to think that maybe we ought to know all sorts of things because we want to appear mature and wise, and asking too many questions might clue folks into the fact that we aren’t. That fear continues when we move into our work lives; if we ask too many questions, perhaps people will wonder whether we are the right person for the job. The risk, however, is that we find ourselves overwhelmed with the tasks we’re given because we’re busy trying to figure it out on own as we go. Another risk is that we don’t stretch beyond our current comfortable position because staying in a place where we are ‘expert’ enough to know what we’re doing is safer than growing into a new role. Asking for help is a necessary component of growth. You don’t need to know everything when you take on a new role or task. You need to know what you need to learn and where to get the help you need to learn it!
Be a Helper
Receiving support is a give and take process. Before you identify the mentor who can help you fill in your blank spaces, understand what kind of help you’re seeking. You may need to take a class or seminar. You may just need a sounding board or a few tips to set you off in the right direction. Before you reach out to ask for help, take the time to clearly articulate what that help looks like. The people you’ll be approaching for support are just as busy as you are. Using their time wisely begins by being able to communicate your specific request from the beginning.
Find the Right Helper
Within your network of coworkers and professional peers, there are plenty of potential mentors. Begin this process by identifying which person (or people!) in your network have the skills you’re looking to develop. Not finding the right fit? That’s okay. Move to the next question: Who in your network may have a connection who can help you? Ask for an introduction.
Embrace the Process
Tom Clancy once said, “Life is about learning; when you stop learning, you die.”
In the same vein, Albert Einstein said, “Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning.”
With great minds like these supporting the process of exposing our knowledge gaps so we can attain help in filling them, who are we to argue? No matter how many years your career has under its belt or how “expert” you’ve become in your field, there is still more to learn. Admitting that isn’t a sign of weakness or inadequacy. It’s quite the opposite, in fact. Admitting that we have space to grow is a strength. Own it and grow!