I know this firsthand: asking for help can be a hard thing to do. Admitting that I don’t have all the answers or the capacity to accomplish what needs to be done can be challenging, sometimes defeating, and almost always humbling. But I’ve also discovered it’s among the best ways I learn and grow – personally and professionally – if I’m being genuine with my ask.
What to ask for
It has me thinking about how I can best offer my help as well. Usually it comes down to having to interpret what the ask is for. I’ve realized through my own “bad asks” that how you ask for help matters, and it starts with clarifying exactly what you’re asking for:
- Am I interested in insights or just implementation?
- Do I need advisors/experts to help guide the work or assistants to follow my lead?
Knowing what to ask for brings clarity to the need. Knowing who to ask for help brings focus on the right skill sets and fit.
Certainly there are tasks that just need to get done. In those situations, there’s nothing more helpful than sets of extra hands. But sometimes more digging and legwork is necessary, especially when it comes to issues of branding, messaging and marketing.
When your brand isn’t performing or its purpose, promise and message are unclear, insights from the outside are going to be helpful. This is where that old adage rings true – sometimes you’re just too close to the work.
Yet the business of branding and messaging all too often slips into that implementation part of the ask when insights could prove more helpful. But that's what happens when some fast-on-the-horizon marketing opportunity looms.
The benefits of outside expertise
Few of us would be foolish enough to advise our physicians on how to cure what ills us without their expert evaluation, or advise our attorneys how to structure a business deal without their thorough assessment of the terms. Yet with issues of branding, marketing or communication, self-diagnosis and proposed solutions are what usually greet outside counsel. This is what makes the marketing or branding RFP nearly obsolete for thoughtful creatives who place extraordinary value on their relationships, their time and their craft.
Being open to the full potential of collaboration
Like many of the partners I choose to work with, I’m drawn to the genuineness of connections over the binding of contracts. This is where expertise gets leveraged, trust and potential is realized, and how the best (and sometimes unexpected) work gets accomplished.
While current challenges might be unique to your brand – they are not unique in general. That’s good news for any organization. Those current challenges likely resemble scenarios that outside experts work through day in and day out. They have familiarity in this territory. There is a knowledge of which questions to ask. And there is a recognition of what works and what doesn’t.
By clarifying the kind of help you’re asking for, you’ll have a stronger likelihood of saving time and, budget while also avoiding the difficult dance of finding the right partner to help.
The perils of not asking
I’m more accustomed to asking for help these days – creative help, mentoring help, financial help and additional brainpower help – even though it didn’t come natural at first. Better yet, I no longer see it as a sign of weakness or personal failure, but rather a desire for something greater when my own perspectives and talents just aren’t enough.
Nobody outright asks for trouble. However, there's one clear takeaway I have learned: by not asking for help and clarifying my ask, by default trouble is essentially what I'm asking for.