In 2003, I took a year off work in order to finish my masters degree and determine my next career move. The time was supposed to provide me clarity on what I wanted to do next so that I would know exactly the next step in my career.
While I learned a lot, I found myself still unsure of where to go next. The positions I was interviewing for didn’t seem to show long-term potential – and I was having a hard time getting excited about the booming industry in our area at the time: mortgage companies (that ended up being a blessing in disguise).
Discouraged after interviewing for several months, I got some great advice. It was pointed out to me that people likely wanted to help in my journey, but just weren’t sure how. It was suggested that I might want to teach people how they could help.
I took the advice to heart and drafted an email to the 30 or so people who were closest in my life at the time. I explained the journey I had been on…and rather than constraining myself by what I was finding in interviews, I described my “ideal job” in great detail. I asked my friends to help when they came across opportunities through their connections that might seem in alignment with my ideal job.
Two weeks later, my friend Kenny Phillips emailed to say that he was taking a Dale Carnegie Course at his company, Northrop Grumman, and that I should consider thinking about talking to them. He offered to make a connection with his instructor on my behalf.
That was almost ten years ago. In retrospect, sending that email was one of the smartest moves I’ve ever made, since I’ve had a fantastic career with Dale Carnegie ever since and have feel grateful each day to get to be a small part of Carnegie’s 100+ year legacy. As an added bonus, it’s also provided flexibility for career growth in other ways through consulting, university teaching, writing, and podcasting.
I don’t know about you, but I can be pretty stubborn about asking for help. While I’m often ready and willing to help out others, I’ll rarely ask people to help me. I’ve come to realize that my natural tendency to start everything myself can be as much a liability as a strength.
I’ve also found this to be true for many people I’ve served.
Where are you hitting a wall right now? Could engaging others by asking for help bring you different results? If so, what’s the best way to ask for help?
If you are willing to ask, I think you’ll find that more often than not, others are willing to support your success too.