You Can’t Do It All: Asking for Help is Not a Sign of Weakness

Kind of seems like a strange thing for a professional motivator to say, doesn’t it? “You can’t do it all.” In fact, I am known for telling people to live in possibility.

There’s no doubt about it, I am your biggest and loudest cheerleader. I am in your corner, nudging you forward and yes, holding your hand as you jump off yet another cliff in entrepreneurship, in relationships, in health. That’s me. It may seem ironic then that, because I care so deeply about you and your success, I know that you must recognize your limitations.

It is when we don’t acknowledge that we really cannot do it all and build a thriving business and maintain healthy relationships and a healthy self that we actually achieve everything we want.

How do I know this? Is it just from helping my clients move through life transitions with grace and confidence so they can create lives that excite them? No, it is because I know how it is. I have been there myself.

I lived most of my 44 years as a person who wanted to do it all by herself. I felt that no one else could do it as well or with as much care as I could. When it came to my business, certainly, who else would be as invested in the outcome? I’m a solopreneur. I can only imagine how difficult it is for those of you who are managers of teams to let go and delegate. But it is what we must do.

Whether you, like me, have to hire people to help balance the books, build your website, or edit your videos, doing this frees you up to work on the things that only you can do in your special way.

A few years ago, I was in a mastermind group with several other speakers. Each week we would take turns updating each other on our progress toward goals we had set and work through challenges we were experiencing as we developed our brands and skills. One member in particular had difficulty achieving what she intended for each week because she was always busy doing other things. While we were strong supporters of personal and professional development (heck, that’s our bread and butter), the time and money she was spending on learning web coding, graphic design, and bookkeeping was inhibiting her ability to market her services and improve her skills and content – things only she could do.  Along with the other members of our group, I was enthusiastic and encouraged her pursuits until, one day, I asked how all of these extra projects – those outside of her core competencies – were helping to advance her toward her goals. She was taken aback.  Her business hadn’t grown at all in the six months we were talking and that “confrontation” woke her up to that reality. She was sabotaging her own success by burying herself in tasks that anyone else could have done (at half the time and cost).

A little dose of tough love is hard to take sometimes. Usually, when you receive it, you are not expecting it and it can set you back a few steps. You may get defensive and think, “I never asked for your opinion” or “You don’t understand. No one else has to deal with things like I do” or, “I’m different. That doesn’t apply to me.”

Does that sound familiar to you?

As a coach, I’m not known for being really tough, but I do help my clients Get Real (that’s the second step in the 7-step process to create a life that excites you which is the foundation of the coaching and workshop programs I offer). If you don’t face the realities of your business, relationships, and health, and take responsibility for what is going right and what is going wrong, you will stay stuck where you are.

How much longer are you going to stay stuck? Remember, if you aren’t moving forward, you are moving backward.

It’s time to let go of the notion that you have to do it all because “that’s what being an entrepreneur is”. That’s the same fallacy that is behind the adage that you have to starve if you’re an artist or that every author suffers from writer’s block. It’s just not true. And even if it is true for the majority, you can happily fall in the minority, can’t you? Or, do you want to settle for mediocrity? I didn’t think so.

Your challenge: Write a list of all the things that you would LOVE to delegate. Use a whiteboard or loose leaf or your tablet, it doesn’t matter. But set aside 5 minutes to do this activity today. Think of those mundane tasks that you have to do daily, weekly, and monthly at home or at work. Don’t think about how you would pay someone to do them, just write them down. Now go through and identify a few that you could easily stop doing without significant guilt or stress. Start there. Now, imagine letting them go. How does that make you feel? (You feel lighter already, don’t you?) Imagine what you could do with that time. How would you spend your extra time, money and energy? Sit with that feeling and really let it wash over you. Sit with the sense that everything will be ok if you let these things go.

Revisit your list and identify those items that would require paid help. Imagine that finding the money is not an issue and feel how that would change your life. Ask yourself, if you paid someone $10 or $20 per hour to cover that job, what could be done to recoup that cost? Make another sale? Find a way to reduce expenses? Ask yourself, what would you do with that extra time? Have a date with your spouse? Play with your kids? Finally, consider how much that is worth to you. When you align your choices with your values, the decision becomes a lot easier and it is a strong motivator to change your ways.

I have learned the hard way. Part of the process of create a life that excites you is to happily let go of the things that weigh you down. You don’t have to do everything. Ask for help and trust that everything will be ok. It will.

outdoor-headshot_July2012Lisa L. Payne, BBA, MER, CPC is President of Connections for Success Inc. To her corporate clients, she offers executive coaching, motivational addresses, and a new interactive workshop called “Engage and Excite Your Team through Change: 7 Steps to Create a Culture of Empowerment.” She is also the author of “What If They Knew? Secrets of an Impressive Woman.” Check out her website for coaching programs and corporate workshops, or visit her on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, or YouTube.


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