Feeling broken, it was time to find help. At first I didn’t even know what help looked like. Was it a psychologist? A mentor? A coach? I had no idea.
Years prior, I’d had an interest in coaching. I really didn’t know much about coaching; I had just thought that helping people sounded kind of cool. So I started to think about the possibility of seeing a coach. After all, I couldn’t really say that I had an interest in being a coach if I hadn’t even bothered seeing a coach.
So my search for a coach commenced. To be honest, the coaching services that I found weren’t really what I was looking for. Everyone seemed to offer multiple-session packages and, with a dodgy employee assistance program experience still fresh in my mind, I was adamant that I wasn’t locking myself into a package. It would be a pay-as-you-go arrangement so that I could bail if I didn’t like the coach.
At this point, I found my commitment to my decision starting to waiver. Come on, Deanne, get in and organise something because we all know that you will bail if it gets too hard. Hurry up. Make it happen.
By pure accident, I confided in a friend at lunch one day. It is a sign of where I was at mentally that I expected him to laugh at me. It is, of course, very unfair to assess that this friend would ever have laughed at anyone confiding in him that they needed help. To my surprise, not only did he not laugh, he also recommended a coach. It felt as though the planets were aligning for me to take the step.
I struggled with the thought of calling a complete stranger and saying “Hi, I am Deanne and I am an emotional wreck with no self-confidence, who spends all of my days crying because I am incompetent at everything.” I figured it would be much easier to make contact via email. So, I typed up an email:
My name is Deanne. I am interested in receiving some coaching, and a friend recommended you.
In the past, I have had issues with my confidence, especially at work. I often struggle when I am faced with significant uncertainty, but have previously successfully implemented strategies to get around this. I recently started a new job. The uncertainty is overwhelming and I think that I need to start approaching it differently if I am to be successful.
I am wondering whether this is something that you would be able to help with and, if so, what options would you have available, please?
With my email typed up, I then squeezed my eyes really tightly shut and quickly hit send on the email. My logic was that if I couldn’t see myself hitting send, I couldn’t stop myself from doing so.
My first step had been taken.
I have experienced a number of situations where I have thought that there was nothing I could do, only to find that something as simple as asking someone for help made a difference. In ontological speak, we call that making a request.
Interestingly, we make requests every day of our lives – at work, at home, at the shops; everywhere. Sometimes, simply making the request with no constraints is enough. Other times, such as at work, there may be a need to be a little more clear and specific, for example:
“Could you please complete X task to Y standard by Z timeframe?”
There is an entire framework around making requests, gaining commitment to requests, and managing those commitments. However, that is a story for another day.
As well as making a request, there was another piece of learning that I gained from this experience. It was over a year after sending this email that I realised how big it was to take this step and ask for help. I was a perfectionistic self-doubter. Asking for help was not something that I did well at the best of times. Yet, in the middle of a major self-doubt crisis, I had managed to shift something within me so that I could make a request. If anyone else had done that, I would have congratulated them massively. I didn’t do that for myself. Instead, I continued pushing myself to try harder, without even considering congratulating myself on what I had achieved. When I realised this, I took a moment to congratulate myself. Since then, if I find myself being a little tough on myself, I ask myself how I would treat someone else in the same situation.
Points to Ponder…
- What requests would it be useful for you to make right now to help you move forward?
- How are you constructing your requests to others? How is this serving you?
- Have you taken a moment to congratulate yourself today?
I am a leadership and life coach, available for coaching and facilitation services. If you feel that it would be useful to have a conversation with me, please feel free to view my services on the Leading and Being website.