The week before finals my freshman year in college, my dad had a massive heart attack. I was devastated (as was my entire family). But what saddens me as I look back on that rough time was that I didn’t ask for support. Other than sharing the news with my closest friend, I kept my feelings, fears and needs to myself, donned my armor and marched straight into my exams as unprepared as anyone would be who didn’t know if their parent was going to make it to the next day. I think I failed all but one of my tests.
Every week our career coaching team supports mid to senior level professionals from around the world on career changes, job searches and identifying, finding and creating work that fits them inside and out. Over the years, we’ve observed that people who are comfortable asking for and receiving help—whether that’s from a coach, a therapist, a mentor, professional organization, business partner, neighbor, friend or colleague—experience greater success and feel more connected and confident in all areas of their lives. Having a support system can have a huge impact on how you experience day-to-day life.
Research shows that individuals who have robust support systems:
- are more effective at work and at home (they feel as if they have a “team” behind them and that they’re not all alone)
- keep resolutions, particularly those involving their health and physical well-being
- weather personal and professional challenges more easily (read about my journey through depression)
- are less likely to feel overwhelmed and find it easier to maintain perspective
- stay healthier on all levels—mentally, physically and emotionally
- are less likely to feel isolated (isolation can lead to feelings of despair and failure) and experience less stress and burnout
- have children who are comfortable asking for and receiving support and help from others
One of the hardest lessons I’ve ever learned was how to ask for and receive help. And I haven’t mastered it yet! In Building a Support Network (Ch. 10) from my new book, Nurturing the Soul of Your Family, I share about my personal journey to this newfound skill and what a profound impact it’s had on my life. (This chapter also includes a powerful exercise on how to identify your personal/professional needs and craft a support wheel.) It’s not just acceptable to need others; it’s in our innate nature to give and receive help. We are meant to experience community and connection, to lean on each other, not just when things get tough — but every day!
Try the following exercise — an excerpt from Nurturing the Soul of Your Family: Imagine a New Way of Being: A Journaling Exercise Close your eyes for a minute and place one hand over the center of your chest. Take a deep breath. Observe with curiosity and compassion whatever thoughts and feelings “asking for help” stirs up for you. When you’re ready, explore the following:
- What would it look like to take the first steps toward allowing support into my life?
- How would it feel to be more supported — personally and professionally — in all areas of my life?
- How might my family life and relationship shift if I began to ask for and receive more support?
Let me know how we can support you on your career and life path this spring (check out our upcoming events –including our March 20th Nurturing Your Soul: An Evening of Self-Renewal for parents and the Resources section on our new website for some free support).