Over the past week we have shared some of the lessons we've learned this year at Plenty. Our first lesson spoke to the importance of believing there is plenty for everyone, and why you should surround yourself with others who share this attitude as well. Our second lesson covered the need for a clear and compelling mission statement that others can adopt and share with ease. We are continuing the discussion this week with our third lesson learned, which is one almost everyone can relate to, the importance and need to ask for help.
Thinking about this past year, what we have experienced and grown from, has brought me back to my childhood. My family tells me that my favorite phrase gorwing up was, “I can do it by myself!” Whether it was tying my shoes or working on a puzzle or attempting to make breakfast for the family, I had a strong independent streak and would neither ask for help nor accept it if offered.
As I’ve matured, the independent streak has remained but I’ve also discovered the benefit of having input from others. Just because we can do something by ourselves, doesn’t mean we necessarily should. Our outputs can be made exponentially better with a little help or insight from someone else, which is why athletic coaches, therapists, tutors and consultants exist.
As consultants we have worked with organizations of varying size, tenure and cause this year. Along the way we have had some interesting conversations with clients about how they found us and why they asked for help. A few of them also shared their reasons for not reaching out sooner. It seems to boil down to three main misconceptions about asking for help:
Misconception #1: My organization doesn’t need help. The truth is, we can all use a little help. Even Olympic athletes have coaches. One of my favorite engagements this year was working with an organization whose peer-to-peer fundraising program is growing. And while most people don’t usually seek help when they are already experiencing success, this organization had the foresight to ask for help in building on their accomplishments in order to continue their upward trajectory.
Misconception #2: Asking for help has an expiration date. Once you’ve been in the same role for several years, you may think you can’t or don’t need to ask for help. You should be an expert at this point, right? The truth is, the longer you’ve been in your current role, the more you will benefit from a fresh perspective. Combining your knowledge with the skill of a peer-to-peer fundraising consultant or colleague may be just what you need to take your program to the next level (or, get it back on track).
Misconception #3: Asking for help means you’re weak. I know I’m not the only one who bristles at the idea of asking for help. We all want to be experts at what we do. But asking for help doesn’t mean you can’t do something on your own. It means you have enough confidence to recognize the fact that collaborating with a strategic thought partner can lead to even greater success.
Whether these misconceptions apply to you or not, I encourage you to do two things as we look ahead to the remaining weeks of 2014 and the start of 2015.
1. Ask for help internally.
When was the last time you asked a colleague for help? If your colleagues have been there longer than you, you may see them as being set in the old ways of the organization. But along with becoming set in the old ways comes experience. Their input may save you from reinventing the wheel.
And if your colleagues have joined the organization more recently, you may assume they won’t be able to help. But as an agency that just added two new associates, trust me, that fresh perspective is not only helpful it’s essential.
2. Ask for help externally.
If you haven’t worked with a consultant before, you may not know where to start. That’s why we are happy to offer you advice on asking for advice. Send us a note and one of us will gladly hop on the phone to talk about where you’ve been, where you are now, and where you want to go.
We provide services in analytics, strategy, development, training, and implementation, and we would love to help you harness the power of peer-to-peer fundraising for your organization.
Whether you are ready to talk with Plenty or plan on tapping a team member for assistance, remember that strength comes in numbers, and asking for help will reap long-term benefits as you create an environment of progress and collaboration.