Saturday, January 12, 2008

Staying Connected

I've always had it in my mind that to be a strong individual a person should assert their independence and work to be successful with their own fortitude. Now let me put in a disclaimer that I KNOW that I made it to where I am because of the people around me who have offered support, love and encouragement. I didn't get where I am alone and I'm very thankful for the generous path I've been able to travel.  BUT, there is a part of me who embarked on this great book writing/publishing adventure that felt (maybe even still FEELS) it was a project I took on myself (with my great mom!) so I wouldn't bother others with questions/concerns/help for it as we marched forward to get the book in the hands of readers. My ego got the better of me.
The part of me that wrote the book is kicking that other part of me, saying, "HELLO!!!! Have you READ the book? Do you realize that mentors, friends and family are SUPPOSED to be part of the process?  Wouldn't YOU offer the same to others if THEY asked you for help?"
To that rather strong, yet logical alert, my independent streak answers, "Huh. Maybe you're right. But HOW do I ask for help?"
I refused to let my husband offer to help with technical aspects of the business. This is my project and I didn't want it to affect him anymore than it already has with funding and the time I have to put into it. But, duh! My stress and anxiety over problems I encountered CLEARLY were affecting him more than if I had been humble and just accepted his help off the bat. Hmmm . . . which would be better - 1 hour of help up-front, or a combined 5 hours of emotional and technical help?  My husband voted for the first option, but stubborn me didn't realize how great the first option was until it was too late and we hit the second option by necessary default. The self-centered me is quite stubborn and learns lessons much more slowly than my other "selves".
I used to get upset and frustrated when my mom would suggest we ask a "connection" for help or to pass along information about the book on our behalf. I felt that we were using our friends and business associates, and that we were supposed to make waves and get noticed on our own. It has taken me the full year of our endavor to learn that these people WANT to help us spread our message and that simple requests for passing along a business card or adding links to websites aren't the organ-donating and animal rescuing level of assistance I made them out to be in my mind. So now when my mom (usually a rather mild and introverted soul - quite the opposite of my own extraverted self - I'm more like my dad in that aspect) gets wound up (in a good way!) about the book as she tells people about it and encourages them to spread the word, I step back and enjoy her energy. I'm even learning to be my own best advocate by putting myself out for others to see. Easy? No. I never want to come across as a bragger . . . but I do know that the message I'm sharing in my book is one that is important for others to receive. I'm having to step out of my comfort zone to do this, but the experience is enabling my self-growth and humbling me.
It is okay to say to others, "I have a great idea, but I can't execute it by myself. I could sure use your expertise and help. Would you be available to help me?"
It is important to recognize that we don't have all of the answers ourselves. It's hard sometimes (MANY times, even!). It is something I'm still working on . . . and will continue to struggle with. But I guess that's where those amazing friends and family members come it . . . swooping down to save the day, even before I recognize the day needs saving. They save me from myself.
Don't be surprised if you get an email or phone call or even a letter from me someday soon asking for your help . . . and please, feel free to do the same of me - I'm happy to share MY resources with YOU to help you reach your goals, too. Let's stay connected and not let my ego get in the way - life is so much better when we can share.

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