Hello SOTGC community,
When I was new in my career, I felt an overwhelming fear when asking for help. I was supposed to know what I was doing! If I told someone the truth about a situation, would they tell my boss? Or worse, what if I wasn’t smart enough to do my job?
The answer is that I wasn’t smart enough to do my job. And neither are you. You are only as smart and strong as the people you surround yourself with!
I had a manager ask me a simple question: who do you talk to? I answered that I spoke with Taylor, a counterpart in my district, because we got along well. He took a long breath and said, “Ryan, I’m glad things are going well for you. But, there will be a time where things aren’t going well. If Taylor is the only person you talk to, do you think that the two of you alone will be able to figure things out? The first question people will ask when things go south is who is helping you?” He had a good point.
I decided to reach out to peers who were excelling. Also, since my ultimate goal is to manage, I found a manager to talk with about career goals – a mentor.
Again, I was afraid to call my colleagues. I had seen and spoken to them at meetings, would they be taken aback that I suddenly wanted a relationship? Some of them were very different from me, and I knew that if we talked that they would challenge me. Was I ready for that?
After the conversations started, I quickly realized the unbelievable value. Not only were my colleagues open to our conversations, but they were flattered that I was asking for their help. Any time I came across a situation or problem, I picked up the phone rather than turning inward. I had formed a “super team” of people from whom I gleaned advice, copied ideas, and absorbed wisdom.
When speaking with my mentor, I quickly realized that as the mentee, it was my responsibility to set the agenda for our meetings. I let him know where I wanted go and areas in which I needed his help. He shared and celebrated my successes and helped me learn from my failures. We had a relationship based on trust and honesty which helped me to become my authentic self at work.
Today, I still surround myself with people who I know will challenge and teach me. It is easy to take advice, but it is a daily practice to fearlessly to ask for it.