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Linda Samuels, CPO-CD®

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« Dreams Need Help Too | Motivation & Deadlines »

Doing It All Yourself...Or Not!

Do you have a hard time asking for help? Especially for those who are more accustomed to giving than receiving, enlisting help can be particularly challenging. I was curious what my colleagues in various helping professions thought about this idea. I asked Sue West, Kim Oser, Geralin Thomas, Ellen Delap, Andrea Sharb, Helena Alkhas, and Yota Schneider, “What was a benefit you received when you recently enlisted help?” While their responses ranged from general to specific, in each case, the benefit they got was a welcome and unexpected surprise. Their enlisting help discoveries are inspiring and encouraging. My gratitude goes to each of them for making time to reflect and share.


What was a benefit you received when you recently enlisted help? . . .

 Great Collaboration

“Asking for help meant that I couldn’t do it all, yet I wanted to! Time and again, I‘ve been proven wrong. Earlier this year, I was talking with a colleague about wanting to create a time management workshop, but with a different perspective. I was stuck. I was asking for advice, and instead, I got so much more. We created the program together and in record time. We learned from and used respective strengths, e.g., networking for workshop hosts or operational details. For workshop participants, the content was richer, and our interaction brought greater engagement. One question and look at all that’s happened! Yet again!” 

Sue West, COC®, CPO-CD® Certified Organizer Coach & Certified Professional Organizer in Chronic Disorganization


Great Support

“It is so easy to take everything on ourselves but it is not always the best solution. We often get tripped up by our fears and go nowhere. I recently was looking to start using an unfamiliar social media resource. I did some research and then contacted a colleague whose success with this resource I admired. I not only learned ways to use it but her help knocked down the fear and enabled me dive in. It is amazing how much easier life can be and how you can achieve greater success when you just reach out for a little help.”

Kim Oser, CPO® Certified Professional Organizer, Productivity Coach & Blogger


Great Expertise

“Recently, I was contemplating a client-discount for large blocks of time booked with a team of subcontractors. I asked my accountant for ideas on how to approach this and make it a win-win-win for me (the owner of the company), the client, and the sub-contractor.  She immediately did the math and delivered the bottom line:  if/when I discount clients, my subcontractor's percentage of earnings increases while mine decreases unless the sub-contractor decreases her rate as well. That is extremely useful knowledge to have when planning projects, budgets and team members' rates.”

Geralin Thomas, CPO-CD®Instructor & Consultant for New Professional Organizers


Great Partnerships

“Asking for help has always been natural to me with my team player attitude. When you ask for help, you are signaling to others that it’s not only okay to ask, but everyone’s work and life are all the better for it. Others respond and also ask for help as well. Professionally I ask for help in tasks that I am less familiar with, such as technology or software use. I like to be very specific about what help I need and create a timeline that will work for everyone. This strategy has created great partnerships.”

Ellen Delap, CPO®  – Certified Professional Organizer & Family Manager & Productivity Consultant


Great Accountability

“I’ve been considering offering a group coaching course for ADHD adults for well over a year. I even have a number of individuals interested in participating. I noticed recently that I was having trouble moving past the conceptualization phase. I therefore enlisted the help of a fellow coach who I thought would share my enthusiasm for creating and offering this course. The benefit of asking for help in this situation is accountability. Working with someone else and breaking down and assigning tasks needed to get the course rolling is helping me move beyond conceptualization and into realization.”

Andrea Sharb, ACC, CPO-CD®, COC, CPO® Professional Organizer & Certified Coach 


Great Savings

“From the babysitter to the graphic designer I have learned the hard way not to try to do it all. While I'd love to take care of things myself, I realized that I was spending more energy, time and money when I didn't enlist help. I finally listed all the activities that would cost me more, both personally and in my business, if I didn't delegate or outsource. Now, I keep a list of resources (free & paid) that I go to on a regular basis. I am more focused, more productive and more relaxed. My favorite help is the grocery delivery service.”

Helena AlkhasProfessional Organizer & Social Media Virtual Assistant


Great Solace

“I was raised to be self-reliant to a fault. Through life experience, I had to learn the art of asking and receiving. My most recent experience of asking for help was last October when my father was suddenly hospitalized. I traveled to Greece to be with him. He declined within three days of my arrival. I found myself in a decision making position that I wasn't completely prepared for. I had to find the fine balance between asking for what I needed without becoming a burden. I gave up expectations and allowed people to help in small ways that were easy for them but made a huge difference to me. Looking back, I know that it was because of this network of "helping angels" that I was able to maintain my focus, stay centered, and see my Dad through his final journey. I feel blessed and grateful.”

Yota Schneider, Seasons of Change Certified Master Coach – Life Transitions Coach, Workshops & Retreat Facilitator, Blogger, & Mindfulness Meditation Practitioner


Enlisting help is the topic we’ll focus on this month. I love how the stories shared by my colleagues are a great way to begin our dialogue. What resonated with you? Do you easily ask for help or do you tend to do everything yourself? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Come join the conversation and share your thoughts about enlisting help successes, challenges, and ideas.

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Reader Comments (15)

Love all these ideas on why asking for help makes a difference. Each different perspective brought a smile to my face. It is hard to get past asking sometimes, but in each case the rewards were amazing. Thanks to all my colleagues for their insightful posts and most especially Linda for gathering these together!

August 6, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterEllen Delap

@Ellen- It's always wonderful to have you with us either as a post contributor or conversation generator. Like you, I found it fascinating that there was such variety with the responses. But what struck me most was that asking for help in all these cases yielded many more positives than could have been imagined. Very encouraging.

August 6, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLinda Samuels

These are such great thoughts shared by all. Asking for help requires that step out of control, and out of the spotlight, both of which are difficult, but frequently yield surprising and rewarding results!

August 6, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSeana Turner

You're right Linda! Everyone's "discoveries are inspiring and encouraging!" Thank you all for being here and sharing your insights.

Two points resonated the most with me.

First what Sue said . .. "I was asking for advice, and instead, I got so much more. I have found that when I'm willing to open up and ask for help or advice, what I get is so much more that it leaves me feeling warm and grateful for a long time.

Then it's Helena's point . . . "While I'd love to take care of things myself, I realized that I was spending more energy, time and money when I didn't enlist help." When I catch myself falling into old, unproductive habits, I remember this one and set myself straight:-)

August 6, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterYota Schneider

Thank you Linda and all contributors for sharing your perspective on enlisting help.
Yota, "being raised to be self-reliant to a fault" describes me perfectly and I think it has made asking for help that much harder. I am grateful for all the lessons that made reaching out easier for me.

August 6, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterHelena Alkhas

Love the wonderful interaction here. You all are amazing!

@Seana- Oh...yes. That letting go of control can be Oh, So Challenging for some of us. It can be difficult to move from the driver to the passenger seat.

@Yota- Lovely responses to Sue and Helena's points. The positive effects of asking for help are long lasting...and ability to catch ourselves and reverse the course of unproductive habits.

@Helena- "Self-reliant" is familiar to me too. I come from a long line of doers and problem solvers. It's valuable to know when to let go of the reins.

August 6, 2013 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

Yota says, "I gave up expectations . . ." That simple phrase stopped me in my tracks.

I think when it comes to running our businesses we strive to *manage expectations* but when it comes to things that are completely out of our hands, like the precious last few hours we spend with a loved one, we need to surrender and give up all expectations. Simple and lovely.

August 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGeralin Thomas

@Geralin- The idea of surrendering and being in the moment speaks so much to mindfulness, something near and dear to Yota. If we are practicing mindfulness it will bring awareness to where we are, who we're with, and the moment we're in. It allows us to be grateful for the present and open to possibilities (like letting go, getting help, moving forward.)

August 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLinda Samuels

@Geralin , @Linda -Thank you both! You're right! Giving up expectations and surrendering control seem counter intuitive when we encounter the unexpected, but it works, and we save ourselves a lot of unnecessary suffering. Staying open and going with the flow softens us and opens us up to possibilities we didn't know existed.

August 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterYota Schneider

Yota- "Surrendering control"...the operative words. Important to know what is in and out of our control, and then move forward accordingly.

August 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterLinda Samuels

@Linda, @Geralin @Ellen @Yota @Sue and @Kim

Thank you for writing these posts.

I fractured my C1 and C2 in April of this year. I was hospitalized for two weeks and then went home with instructions not to do anything except sit or relax. I could not use a computer or watch television for a month due to a significant concussion and brain injury. I thought that I could manage on my own, Like most of you, I was born self-reliant and as the spouse of a now retired military officer with a brain injury and severe PTSD, I was even more so.

Guess what? I had to ask for help with my business, sub-contracting so that my clients were well looked after; my bookkeeper had to do more and add personal banking to the list;; my virtual assistant @Janet Barclay had to manage do to a little (lot) more for me.

I needed help bathing, cooking, cleaning and walking the dog, I could not even grocery shop or prepare meals.

After two weeks of really trying to do all with failed results I asked for help. I was honestly surprised when friends, colleagues and the community responded happily to help.

I did "surrender control" and you know. it feels pretty good.


August 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterHeather Burke

Thanks Linda for the topic! I struggle with this all the time.... I should be able to do it all..... ugh.. that "should" word.

As with Heather, I got to experience that "don't do anything but breathe and don't sit for more than 10 mins" when I had back surgery a couple of years ago. It was tough, it was humbling and it was really wonderful after I got out of my own way.

It has carried through -- if it looks over 10 pounds, I don't pick it up. Clients do, friends do and I don't care that I may appear helpless. It takes a tremendous amount of strength to say "I can't do it. Can you do it for me please."

August 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSandy Stelter

Your stories are inspiring. What brave, amazing women you are! Thank you both for sharing.

@Heather- I'm so sorry to hear about the challenges you've been facing between you and your husband. What strength you have with your positive, gratitude-filled perspective. I especially love your description of how necessity made you reach out for help, which others willingly gave, how you learned to let go ("surrender control") and feel good in the process.

@Sandy- Oh yes...the infamous "should" word. What a beautiful way to describe relinquishing control as "humbling." Coming to grips with our limitations, and graciously learning how to ask for help is no easy feat. How beautifully you've done that.

You are amazing women. I'm grateful to have you here with us. Wishing you both continued healing.

August 12, 2013 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

Acceptance. That we have limits. Or as we age, that we have less superwoman energy than we used to. That we cannot have a singular focus; this is a luxury in our complicated times. That we can't "push through it" by willing it. This so reminds me of my clients who have taken on too much, or have ADHD or bipolar or both, or are at an age/stage where acceptance is integral to acting on choices they want or need to make. I am constantly aware of this challenge myself. This is so difficult but the rewards of enlisting support and collaboration are nicely articulated here. Thank you so much for a different take on this topic, Linda. Great question.

August 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSue West

Sue- What you shared is so beautiful and grounding.. As someone that has always pushed myself to do more, be more, learn more (get the idea), I especially appreciate your word: ACCEPTANCE. So apt. Such an important reminder. Thank you for this gift.

August 15, 2013 | Registered CommenterLinda Samuels

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