EP 14 // I Hate Asking For Help, You Probably Do Too

Ep 14

The Open Door Conversations Podcast is your weekly opportunity to accept leadership support. Accepting help can be difficult, especially when we have to ask for it. It is natural for humans to prefer doing everything themselves and avoid the guilt and fear of delegating tasks to others. Akua sheds light on why we have trouble asking for help and provides ways to get the support we need.  

Leaders who feel overworked and burned out are often not delegating enough. This is completely normal and often the case with leaders who are passionate about their work. We must recognize how we feel about asking for help, learn to turn off the limiting beliefs that keep us from getting the help we need, and start using our incredible teams to shed the burden of work. This process will help invigorate your work, the work of your employees and eventually raise your bottom line.   

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What's Covered in this Episode About Limiting Beliefs 

Limiting beliefs that hold us back from getting help:

  • “They can’t do it as well as me.”
  • “It’s easier or faster if I do it myself.”
  • “My employees don’t have the same commitment to quality as I do.”
  • “I need to be an expert before I ask someone else to do this.”
  • “I enjoy the work so I shouldn’t delegate it.”
  • “I don’t want to be a burden to my team.”

Quotes from this Episode of Open Door Conversations

  • "Our perception of ourselves and that perception can also shift and change, depending on what environment that you're in, will have an impact on whether or not you ask for help." - Akua Nyame-Mensah

  • "Your perception of yourself impacts whether you are open to asking for help, and also whether you are open to receiving help from others." - Akua Nyame-Mensah

  • "No one will do it exactly like you. And all that matters is that your team or whoever supporting you can meet the standard that you have set." - Akua Nyame-Mensah

  • "Just because you enjoy doing the work doesn't mean you should be doing it, especially if it's not something that's going to have a massive impact on your bottom line." - Akua Nyame-Mensah

Mentioned in I Hate Asking For Help, You Probably Do Too

Get to Know the Host of the Open Door Conversations Podcast

Learn more about your host, Akua Nyame-Mensah.

Akua is a certified executive and leadership coach, recognized learning and organizational development facilitator, speaker, and former startup executive. 

Since 2018, she has had the opportunity to partner with amazing organizations, from high-growth startups to multinational brands all around the world, to maximize people, performance, and profit.  Outside of her coaching and corporate speaking engagements, she is a regular mentor, coach, and judge for various entrepreneurship-focused organizations.

Stay in touch with Akua Nyame-Mensah, Leadership & Culture Advisor:

  • Read about Akua’s services if you’d like to learn more about how you can hire her to help you strengthen your organization’s culture.

  • Complete her contact form to jump on a call.

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Here’s the transcript for episode 14 about Asking for Help

NOTE: Please excuse any errors in this transcript; it was created using an AI tool. Akua Nyame-Mensah 0:07 Welcome to the open door podcast. My name is Akua Nyame-Mensah. I also respond to Aqua and it Yeah, I'm a certified executive and leadership coach recognized facilitator and former sort of leader that loves supporting reluctant by your fighting and overwhelmed leaders. I work with them to help them clarify where they should focus their time, and energy each and every day so that they can love themselves, love their work, and ultimately love their life. If you're looking to learn leadership information and hear different perspectives, you are in the right place. My aim in this podcast is to help you see that one of the most productive and profitable things you can do is deeply understand yourself. Understand how you show up, understand how you thrive. And then allow yourself to align everything in your work in your life, and in your business to support that, think of this podcast as your weekly opportunity to receive leadership support. And remember, there is no one right way to read yourself or others. Thank you so much for taking the time to join me today. Let's get started. Hello, and welcome to this episode of the open door conversations podcast. As always, I am super excited to share my topic today. I'm still working on the name right now. It's something along the lines of It's not weird, it's not crazy to ask for help. And what I really wanted to do with this conversation is give you, I guess some some different ideas, some different thoughts on what happens to us when we are asking for help, especially as leaders. So that's when we're delegating, that's when we're trying to get that support. So many of us, me included, will get stuck, we'll feel burnt out, we'll be procrastinating, but we are still terrified, we are still scared to ask for help. And actually, a lot of us might not even be aware of the fact that we are holding ourselves back by not asking for this help. So if you want to be more productive if you want to feel more efficient, and actually be more efficient with your time or optimize your time, if you never want to be burnt out again, you need to listen to this podcast episode because I'm going to break down not just what happens when we ask for help. But I'm also going to be breaking down the top limiting beliefs that sabotage our ability to get that support that we need in order to scale to get that support. We need to build you know businesses and build empires and build families, right to build our lives, we need that support. And so that is what I'm going to be talking about today. So the first thing I really want to start with is that it's really hard for us as human beings to give up control to even ask for support that is 100% Normal. Okay, that's the first thing that I really want to share. As humans, we struggle with asking for help. Our brains simply don't like it, right? We don't like opening up we don't like getting vulnerable with others. And sometimes it might feel like asking for help is a sign of weakness, right? So maybe in our workplaces asking for help, we think will diminish our authority in the workplace, or in our personal lives asking for help might make us look like we're not strong. Like, you know, we shouldn't be in the positions that we're in, because obviously we should know everything right? Because as human beings, there's nothing for us to learn. So the first step is really just recognizing that for the most part, culturally, socially asking for help is not always something that is, is normalized, right? Asking for help really might be seen in a certain light. So that's really that first step. The first step really is to cultivate your awareness around how do I feel asking for help? How do I feel asking for help in my personal life? How do I feel asking for help in my professional life, because as leaders, right we are delegating and when we are delegating, we are asking for help to some extent. And what I think is so interesting, and I also see this in my clients is, even when we're paying someone sometimes is really, really difficult for us to ask them for help as well. So that first step is really getting curious, really starting to ask yourself questions around what do I think about delegation? What do I think about getting support? How do I feel when people assist me? What comes up for me? What are some of the things I was told growing up about getting help? Right? Was I told that by getting help that makes me look weak? Was that something I was told Was that something I heard? Did somebody tell me that in school? Was that what I was told at work? So really just getting curious and starting to reflect on? What are my beliefs around asking for help? What is my identity asking for help, I think at some point in time, I'm gonna have to do a podcast really on identity and how our identity drives whether or not we feel productive, and whether or not we feel efficient and effective. Whether or not we feel like we're an inspiring leader, because the first thing really to recognize is whether or not you are aware of it, your perception of yourself impacts, whether you are open to asking for help, and also whether you are open to receiving help from others. Why is this, this is the case, because our identity, right, how we perceive ourselves will dictate how we behave. And so if we perceive ourselves, as you know, and I'm just gonna use myself as an example, what I used to tell myself, I'm strong, I'm independent, and self reliant. I'm self sufficient, therefore, right, the way in which I behaved was, I can't ask for help, I shouldn't ask for help, I will look weak if I ask for help. And that made me more resistant to asking for help as well. So really just recognizing that our perception of ourselves, and that perception can also shift and change, depending on what environment that you're in, will have an impact on whether or not you ask for help, right? So maybe if I'm in an environment where I'm around people who identify as male, I'm more willing to ask him likely to ask for help. But if I'm around people who identify as women or I perceive to be women, I'm not willing to ask for help, because I'm going to look some way right? Where does that come from? Is that really serving me? Definitely not. But it's something that we can definitely think about. And we can also see it with, you know, quote, unquote, power structure that we might see at work. So maybe a boss is willing to ask for help in certain meetings, or certain situations or wants to look a certain way, in certain meetings in certain situations. You know, there's maybe nothing really wrong with that to a certain extent, but maybe that supervisor that boss could really do if somehow, and should be open to asking for some support. So why did I also mention this idea of how your perception of yourself also impacts whether you're open to receiving help? This is something that's really important for us to recognize as human beings. Because we are all biased, we all discriminate whether or not we want to believe it. The truth is that we were designed where we evolved to really discriminate. And so I'm actually going to link a video I did about the top four biases, because it's really important to recognize that whether or not we're open to receiving help, whether or not we're even open to listening to someone's suggestions or advice will be based on our perceptions of that human being right. So we might say to ourselves, well, I'm not going to take help from someone who looks like that, or who sounds like that, or my perception of where they're, where they are in their life or within business. And so it's so important is for us to recognize this, because we're not always aware of how we're making decisions about whether we're willing to engage with someone, whether we're willing to listen to someone, whether we're less willing to implement what someone suggest. And this is something I think a lot about in terms of my own brand. And in terms of my own work, because I know that there's some people who don't work with me based on their perception of me, maybe they think I'm too young, that's something that I hear a lot that there's this perception of the only way for me to be a useful, you know, coach is by having gone through the same exact thing that they've gone through, and they think they can only get value from someone who looks a certain way, maybe who sounds a certain way, who's done certain things, or maybe who even leaves within certain countries, right? So one of the questions I'll get a lot is, where do you live, right? And that underlying assumption might be once again, I can't be in their heads, right? But potentially, the underlying assumption is, well, you live in Africa, and therefore you can't support me or you live in this particular African country. And therefore, there's no way what you're going to say is useful. So the first step is really cultivating your awareness around this and trying to really just get curious, and I mentioned this before and reflect on is this something that's coming up for you is the resistance coming up, and not allowing you to open yourself up to other options or other possibilities, because of this bias? Once again, that's completely normal. It's what we do as human beings, but just really reflecting on whether or not this is going to be helpful for you moving forward. Because one of the things I know I believe, is that, you know, I don't need to only be supported by people who look like me who sound like me who have the exact same values. I really enjoy having conversations with people who are different and even I really enjoy having conversations with people who I think we disagree on certain points. I think it's really important. And that's one of the reasons why I really love what I do because I love playing devil's advocate, and I think that I add a lot of value to my clients by being able to support them with having some different perspectives. Okay? So that's something that's really important for us to keep in mind when we're thinking about asking for help, and really recognizing that asking for help. And delegating is not an easy thing. The second thing with this is really recognizing that your perception of others will impact whether you offer help and are open to once again receiving how right why because we are biased, we discriminate, and so whether or not you offer help will come from your perception of that individual of Oh, will they be open to it? Oh, do they deserve potentially to eat and get that help? And that's something that we might say to ourselves like, I don't deserve to have help because of X y&z right, we'll always try and have some sort of logic or try and rationalize it based on these identities or based on some of these superficial traits. I don't deserve it. Do you deserve it? I mean, once again, I think those are questions that can't really be asked or answered, I don't think that should even be something that comes into our mind. But really just recognizing that we might also have this thing going on on our heads where we're like, Well, I'm not going to offer to support them, because they look like they should know how to do it. That's something that I hear a lot of leaders say, right, I'll have a conversation with a leader. And they'll be like, well, that person went to x y&z School in that particular country, and therefore, right. And so just really recognizing by telling yourself that story, you're probably doing nobody a favor, because at the end of the day is your job as a leader to support others, so that you can have a positive impact on your bottom line. But if you think someone doesn't need support, because they had the opportunity to go to school in the US, or they had the opportunity to special training program, or because they're from this particular country, or because they have an accent that makes them sound, and I have this in quotes, I know you can't see them, but educated, right, you are doing yourself a disservice. And you're not helping that individual that might need that support. So that first step, and I'm think I'm just killing this probably on this podcast. But that's why cultivating your self awareness is so important, because it's going to have an impact on whether or not right you are open, right? Whether or not you offer whether or not you receive help, okay. And it's going to have an impact on whether or not you can delegate appropriately as well. So I know, right, that I've been this in this same exact spot, right, struggling with delegation, struggling with asking for help, it's something that I've had to work on. And I've had to get really open to the idea of this. But when we're thinking about it from that perspective, once again, of the workplace, it is so important that you use your people effectively, right. So if they've joined your team, and you struggle, given them work, and this is work, once again, that you hired them to do in the first place, recognize that this is a waste of your time and your resources. And I know letting go asking for help and delegating. So depending on what situation you're in, feels so hard, right. And it feels so hard because of the stories that we tell ourselves. And that's why I wanted to talk about some of the limiting beliefs that might creep up. And this could be consciously or subconsciously, so you could be aware of it or not aware of it. But all of these things are going to impede your ability to lead. All of these things are going to make it difficult for you to have a productive, right team, a productive and engaged team. And it's going to make it difficult for you to be efficient and hit your goals, right. So I want to share some of the things that really might be holding you back around asking for help or even potentially delegating, because I believe you deserve to get help. Everybody deserves to be supported. Okay. So if you feel guilty, asking for help, if you feel afraid, asking for help, please continue on and listen. So the first belief that really might be coming up for you, especially around delegating, so we're thinking about it, once again, from that perspective of the workplace, is telling yourself, they can't do it, as well as me. And this also might come up in your personal life as well, when you're thinking about maybe somebody supporting you in your kitchen, right? So maybe you don't have to, you know, make meals so that you have that time for other things, or maybe someone supporting you with, you know, support with looking after your children, right as well. Or maybe even potentially cleaning. Okay, so that first belief is or that first story that you might tell yourself is they can't do as well as me, here's the thing, no one will do it exactly like you. And all that matters is that your team or whoever supporting you can meet the standard that you have set, right. So whatever expectations that you've set. So I know one of the hardest things that I've had to learn as a leader was to take that step back, and recognize that there are multiple ways to get the same result. So if you want to grow your business, grow your department have a life, you need to put trust in others, that they will find their way, right. And you also need to give them the support and training so that they can find their way as well. So I know that you've definitely thought this so I know that you've probably looked at the work of your team and you're like well, I wouldn't have done it that way. But is it good enough, and so it might not be perfect, it might not be exactly what you've done. But as long as it meets the standard that you have set, right, it's good enough. And I think that is all that matters, right? So really recognizing that things don't need to be done exactly the way you've done it. But it just needs to meet the standard. The second belief that you might have is telling yourself or this limiting belief that you might have, is telling yourself, it's easier or faster if I do it myself. And this is something that I hear a lot of my clients say this is something I also say, and I used to say as well when I was working with the team, and this really gets in the way of your productivity. And your ability really to focus on the tasks, and the responsibilities are going to have a massive impact on your bottom line. So if you're telling yourself that recognize that this might be true in the short term, right, so in the beginning, but it's not sustainable in the long run, as a leader, right, whether you're leading people in your personal life or your professional life, you should not be doing other people's work, you ultimately should not be stuck in execution, you really should be leading. And so the only way for you to scale, right? The only way for you to make more money, the only way for you to be able to get that free time. So you can hang out with your daughter, or play basketball with your boys is for you to start passing off tasks to others, right. So whether they are interns, employees or experts, contractors outside of your company, it's so important for you to start to recognize that it actually might be faster in the long run, it actually might be better for your bottom line, it might be better for your mental, physical and emotional health, if you're able to get that support, right. And I'm really excited because one of my recent interviews that I did is all around delegation. And this is something I'll be talking about with a serial entrepreneur and founder. Okay, this third one that's coming up is this story that we tell ourselves that our employees don't have the same commitment to quality that I do. And I think that that's a valid story to tell yourself, I think that's a valid belief to have sometimes. And we need to recognize that sometimes we have very high expectations of others. And so as a founder, or CEO, or business owner, whichever sort of aligns with you, it's true that you're more likely or most likely to have more vested interest in the work that's being done, then your employees, that's just probably a truth. And there's nothing wrong with that. But you could create an environment where your employees feel empowered, they feel self motivated, they feel seen and recognize where they are also committed to the results. So another thing is that you need to get very close to your employees, at least your direct reports and have an understanding of what motivates them. I'll put another link in the show notes about thinking about how to recognize and acknowledge your employees, and how that's such an important thing for us as human beings to really keep in mind, if you really want to get support, if you want to partner, if you want to get help. It's so important that we see it from the perspective of the person who might be supporting us no matter how, quote unquote. And once again, you can't see me quoting, but I think it's important to think about it from this perspective, no matter how Junior they are, it's important to hear it and see it from their perspective, what's in it for them, okay. And that resource that I will put in the show notes will help you think about that a bit. And so you will never get to that point where you can let go so that you have the bandwidth to do other things. If you micromanage, if you redo work, or you shut your employees down every single time they make a mistake. And so it's really up to you to set them up for success. And that's why training is so important. And really understanding what's important to them is crucial as well. The fourth belief, and this is something I see actually in one of my clients right now. And this is something that I struggle with so much is this story that we tell ourselves as founders, as CEOs, as business owners, as leaders, even when we're running a department is I need to be involved in everything, right? I need to be involved in everything. Or it might also show up as I need to try everything first, right? So if you are a first time founder, or this is something I've heard a bit or here's the founder, maybe in an industry that's a bit new, or a sector that's maybe new to you, you might tell yourself like I kind of need to be the expert before everyone else, I need to try it, I need to understand it, I need to be like, you know the best at it before I bring somebody else in. And just really recognizing that this belief, this story you tell yourself might work in the beginning once again, but it's not scalable. And you hold this belief or you tell yourself this story because you have a hard time letting go of control we all do as human beings I'm raising my hand right now I have a hard time as well. But sometimes this belief shows up as my Managing or building processes that require you to need to be there, right. So you are literally building processes where you feel like you need to be needed, right. So there might be an underlying belief there that, hey, you know, I want to be needed, I want to be included, I want to be there, and you don't need to be there all the time. So you really need to focus on building processes, both in your personal professional life that don't always rely on you, right, because if they always rely on you, that's not sustainable. And you're never going to be able to have a break or get that vacation that you deserve. And that you need. So you can continue to come up with innovative ideas, and you can continue to show up right and connect with those clients, they're going to impact your bottom line. The fifth belief or story that you might tell yourself is that I enjoy the work. So why should I outsource or delegate it? Like why should I, I enjoy it, right. And this is something once again that I struggle with because I love learning, I love the feeling that comes from Oh, like I got this and like I can do it right. So once again, completely natural, completely normal. And in some situations, this belief or story really might be serving you. So if you're scrappy, you're just starting off, that might be a great story to tell yourself for a great belief to hold. But once again, as you start to scale, right, maybe as you start to build your family, as you start to get interested in other things, you have to potentially shift this story or belief, right? Just because you enjoy doing the work doesn't mean you should be doing it right, you might be in a position where you should be more strategic with how you spend your time, and let go of some of those things that you enjoy. Right? Let go of some of those things, because you will find other things maybe that you enjoy, right. And really just recognize that, you know, this is potentially another way for your brain to feel like it's staying in control and for you to stay in your comfort zone. So it really, really may not be serving you long story short, and I think you can of course, you know, collect the data and information to see whether or not this is true, right. So there's other ways you can sort of approach it. But really just recognizing that saying that you enjoy something doesn't mean that you should continue doing it, especially if it's not something that's going to have a massive impact on your bottom line. I'll give you an example from my own work, I really enjoy doing graphics, I'm not the best at it, I could work with a graphic designer that could probably do what I do in two hours and 30 minutes, right? So is that the best use of my time? No, it's not hiring a graphic designer is probably a much better investment. So I can use those two hours that I spend on creating graphics on business development. So I can actually run my business, right. So that's just a quick example of how that might look and why it's so important for us to start to recognize that we might have some of these beliefs and stories that we're telling ourselves that really aren't supporting anyone, right, they're not even supporting your team. So if you are working on things that you don't have a competitive advantage in, that's not allowing you to increase your bottom line. So you can pay your team, you're not going to have a business. So here's the last belief that I wanted to share. Okay. And once again, this is something that I've thought about as well, I have clients that also have this feeling. And it's I think it's just a feeling of guilt to some extent, right. And this is what I like to call that reluctant leader, right. So the three leaders, I work with the reluctant leader, the overwhelmed leader, and the firefighting leader. And I think at any point in time, we can be one or all of these things, it really just depends on the situation and where we're at. And so the reluctant leader will say something along these lines, I don't want to be a burden to my team. That's fair, that's completely fair. But here's the reality, you've paid for your team to be there. And they want to be useful, right? You still feel bad, or perhaps guilty for giving them work. And once again, that's completely natural. That's normal, right. But in some instances, you could be working, you could be overworking your team, right. But this is not usually the case. And the only way you'll be able to really see that is by collecting the data and trying to really map out and this is one of the things I really love doing is sort of mapping out with a member of your team, like okay, these are all your tasks and responsibilities that I expect you to do within a day. So this is going to depend on where this person is within your company. But this is a very helpful exercise for you to lead or listening to this map out, like what are all the responsibilities that need to be done and that I expect to be completed within a day and then look at your calendar and be like, okay, you know how many hours I work in a day, if it's eight hours, do they fit, right? Do all these tasks and responsibilities that I have an expectation to do, whether those are imposed, or whether those are self imposed doesn't make sense within the number of hours, I've decided to work within a day and no one should be working eight hours a day. I mean, you can work more than if you want to but just make sure you're taking breaks. That's all I want to say about that. So that's the only way you're going to be able to recognize or be able to actually think to yourself, are they overworking and more likely than not they are not working for overworking. That got a little complicated. You know what I mean? So your team wants to help you take a load off. So make sure you let them right. And so I shared some limiting beliefs here, I've talked a little bit about perception and how our perception impacts whether or not we are open to giving help. So offering help, receiving help, even asking for help. And so I'd really love to hear from you. Um, was this helpful? Was this useful? You know, have you expanded your awareness on thinking about where you could potentially work on in terms of, you know, getting that support in your personal professional life, all right. And then I want to end with three reminders for successful delegation or successfully asking for help. The first is really just giving yourself permission, right. So as high achieving individuals, we often feel like our self worth is tied up within our work, whether it's work we do as mothers, as partners, as a CEO, or founder, we measure our success by our ability to get things done. And I think when we're thinking about, you know, trying to be successful as asking for help or delegation, we need to recognize that this potentially could be a pattern for us, and remind ourselves that we can work through it, give yourself permission to ask for help, or delegate without it, making it mean something about you. Okay? The second thing I think that's really important is to define what success looks like in a role. And sometimes this can be quite hard if you are working within a fast growing startup, because it might change every single day, right? But you know, whether it's being very clear with a contractor or an intern, or you know, your head of sales, the most important part of delegating and asking for help is making sure that you and that team member on the same page and have some idea of what success looks like. And maybe it's scheduling additional conversations where you're constantly checking in to make sure that success looks a certain way, because it's constantly evolving, right? And it's so important, so important for you to think about really defining what success like, looks like. And you know, what's even interesting is thinking about it from that perspective of even what I do, right? I work with leaders to help them define what success looks like, because it can be so hard for us to do, especially when there's so many things for us to be doing. And then the last thing is really allowing yourself to step back. So once you've given yourself permission to delegate, ask for help or outsource. you've defined what success looks like in that role, it's really important that you then step back, right. So resist the urge to micromanage to get in there, try to give that person as much autonomy as possible, you know, you can set times to check in, right and just really try to figure out what's happening and, and how you can support them, right. But the entire point of delegating and asking for help is so that you can free up your time, you can free up that brain space that will allow you to strategize, you can take that company that you have to the next level, right so that you can get home at a reasonable hour so that you can work out and play tennis with your friends. So you can make sure you're there for your kids, if that's something that's important to you. So really just recognizing that it's not weird, it's not crazy to ask for help. You're not weird, you're not crazy. If it's something that you find scary, culturally, socially, it's something that's so hard for us really to do. And culturally and socially. Yeah, it's it's not something that's always necessarily accepted. But it's so important for us to acknowledge this and recognize that we can do better, we deserve better, we should not be afraid to ask for something that ultimately is going to support everyone in our ecosystem, everyone that were involved in. So if you want to work on this, if you are ready to get support. I am currently booking my one on one program right now. So I am currently looking for clients right now I will put a link in the show notes to my application so that you can apply it takes less than five minutes to apply. And actually going through my application process going through my page that sort of outlines my program will give you an opportunity to reflect on what else might be stopping you so that you can really show up to be that productive and inspiring leader that I know that you can be so as always, thank you so much for taking the time to listen, I look forward to hearing your feedback on this particular. Yeah, on this particular podcast episode, please feel free to reach out and let me know what you'd like to hear what I do more of what should I do less of and as always stay safe and sane. Thank you so much for taking the time to listen to today's episode. If you enjoyed what you heard today, please share it with your friends. We can continue this conversation on social media the links to my socials. So that is LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter. You can find them in the show notes if you tagged me in a story and Include the hashtag hashtag ask Akua I will share a special little gift with you. Thank you so much once again for your time and I cannot wait to share my next episode with you stay safe and sane.


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