Is your resistance to asking for help drowning your dreams?

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Some weeks, I imagine what would happen if I had a hidden camera in my office. You would all be appalled to watch me move from one distraction to the next, carefully avoiding the one thing that I really need to get done.

“Jeez,” you would say, “Why can’t she just stop distracting herself and DO THE TASK?”

I would agree with you. Then, if I were smart, I would ask you for help.

I have learned that I get in a specific pattern of resistance when it comes to starting a new piece of work. Once I have an outline, then it is easier to come in and flesh out the details.

But if I allow myself to get down the path of Resistance (to quote a term used by Steven Pressfield in his masterpiece The War of Art), tiny discomfort turns into a roaring fire of creative agony.

This happens because I get stubborn, and forget to ask for help. I like to think of myself as a strong and independent woman. I should be able to create masterpieces by myself, right?


Asking for help is a core attribute of successful entrepreneurs.

If you have staff, like I am proud that I do now (Sheila Sanders, my full-time assistant, started at my office three weeks ago), it becomes imperative to ask for help and delegate as much as possible. I am used to having a meeting with peers, and saying things like:

“I will take a first crack at an outline, then get back to you.”

“I need to think about what the proper steps are to this process, then we can work on it.”

Now I am training myself to say:

“Why don’t you take a crack at an outline, then get back to me.”

“Why don’t you brainstorm the proper steps to this process, then we can work on it together.”

And perhaps most importantly, if I am starting a new project and begin to feel Resistance rise in my throat, I say:

“Help! I am really stuck and frustrated. I don’t know what to do. I am drowning. Can you help me?”

Typical Excuses

Sometimes people say “But I don’t have anyone on my team, how can I ask for help?

I think that is a cop-out.

You have friends and colleagues who would probably help you in a heartbeat. In fact, you probably help people all the time, and they are just waiting for a chance to pay you back for your kindness.


I have asked people for help before, and they were either too busy, or their advice didn’t help.

Fine. Ask someone else. Sooner or later, you will find the right people in your circle.

I offer a free coaching call the first Wednesday of the month, and have for years. Those who show up and ask for help, get help. Those who don’t, don’t.

Like Ze Frank said in his video last week,

“Let me not be so vain to think that I am the sole author of my victories, and a victim of my defeats.”

If your dreams have meaning, if they are significant and challenging and worth it, chances are, you can’t accomplish them alone.

Ask for help.


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9 Responses to “Is your resistance to asking for help drowning your dreams?”

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  2. Oh yes, the help thing is a big one. And for me it isn’t always about help, it is about collaboration. I’m an ENFJ (Myers-Briggs personality type) and collaboration absolutely fuels me. Being able to bounce ideas off of people and co-create is so much fun.

    Yet I haven’t really made an effort to collaborate with other coaches and service providers on products, services, etc. I’m finally starting to plant some collaboration seeds and your post is hitting me at just the right time to encourage me to keep it up. Thanks so much!

  3. Getting help. Oh yeah. You provide the pool for helpful folks to be sure.

  4. As someone who has squirreled away (as demonstrated by my collection of domain names) or half-executed too many good ideas, this really did strike a chord with me. I’ve always been too helpful for others and never asked help for myself. It’s time. And, those very words from Ze Frank have been ringing in my ears since he released the video.

  5. Kit Brown-Hoekstra says:

    It is truly freakish how often your blog posts exactly coincide with something I’m struggling with or thinking about…Thanks, I needed that!

  6. fas says:

    As that popular proverb goes, ask and you shall receive!

  7. Peri Pakroo says:

    Great insight and advice here. I’d add one more excuse, though it’s one that most folks might not consciously admit to: “I don’t want to relinquish any control over this project/task.”

    Lots of us self-employed folks are driven by wanting to pursue our ideas, *our* way. To a point this is fine and the freedom to do this is a powerful benefit of self-employment. But learning to let go of at least some control is essential in developing healthy and productive collaborative relationships. Opening yourself up to the creative ideas and input of others is incredibly freeing!

  8. Deb Ondo says:

    You nailed it, Pam! Thanks for a much needed dose of reality!

  9. Ali Davies says:

    Pam, I have this image of everyone reading this, nodding their heads and saying “been there, done that” or even “still there doing that”. Lone Ranger Syndrome is the curse of the Self Employed.

    A agree with what you are saying about the excuse “I don’t have a team”. I made that mistake for years when I first escaped the corporate world 10 years ago (slow learner on some things!!!!).

    But over the years I have built a support team. They don’t work for me and I don’t work for them. But we are all Self Employed folk in the same boat. It works wonders on so many levels – especially from the accountability point of view.