Reading self-help books is a waste of time. Does this seem like an odd stance from an author of self-help books and a person known as Dr. Success? My proposition is simple: Stop reading self-help books and start using them. If you do not take action after reading a book that gives great advice, you have made a decision that immediately decreases your net worth. Your inaction actually cost you the price of the book, plus the incalculable worth of some portion of your life. You need to decide if you are striving to increase your own bottom line or that of the authors, publishers, and a host of ancillary groups that make up the self-help industry.
It is a fact: the self-help industry, and specifically the glut of self-help books, is an innovation of the good old USA. It flourished because we confused the word interdependence with codependence and concluded that all dependence was weakness. We were overtly guided to be as independent and self-sufficient as humanly possible. The bad news? Being guided to be single-mindedly superhuman is poor advice.
Research has proven that together we can do more and be happier doing it. Success in life is not determined by how much you accumulate in splendid isolation, but rather what you create, enjoy, and share. Insisting on helping yourself can make a task more difficult to accomplish and postpone the achievement of your goals.
The good news? One of the least expensive abilities to develop is our ability to help and be helped by others. Yet we haven’t been taught to ask for help constructively.
To solve that problem, M. Nora Klaver wrote the book: Mayday! Asking for Help in Times of Need. Living the axiom, “we teach what we need to learn,” Master Coach Klaver found out the hard way how ill-equipped we are to ask for help. She realized she was living out a host of cultural myths about asking for help when she experienced a critical time of need. She was forced to question whether asking for help meant she was weak and incompetent (and a social drain responsible for making others feel uncomfortable). No sooner had she asked that question, than she began to wonder what price she would have to pay for seeking help. Would she face rejection (which she did) or accrue a debt of gratitude that she could never repay? (The latter never materialized, by the way.)
In the end, she not only learned to ask for help, but also did what any good teacher does: she wrote about the experience so that others could learn new skills. Her book explores why we don’t ask for help, and then outlines a self-directed process to build some “asking” muscle.
The process takes the form of seven steps that seem familiar, but require a degree of personal willingness, awareness, and action. This is the point where the passive activity of readingmust be combined with active participation (in this case, writing), so that the book can fulfill its self-help promise.
One reason I like this book is that it has sections entitled “Try This,” prompting readers to action. Now is the time for you to take action as you read Klaver’s Seven Steps which are outlined below. This is vital; reading her book further without stopping to examine, preferably in writing, your skill level in each of the steps is useless. Obtaining more information is not going to improve your ability to ask for help. Understanding the steps, and where you need to improve, and then taking action,will.
Step 1: Name the need. It’s hard to ask for help if you don’t recognize the point at which a situation starts to fall apart. This is where hindsight comes in handy. Klaver recommends that you think back to a time when you wanted to scream “Help” (or “Mayday!”). What were your personal distress signals? Did your exercise patterns change? Did your eating habits change? How was your sleep? Think about what your life began to look like on a daily basis, making special note of the patterns as things took a turn for the worse.
Step 2: Give yourself a break. Practice noticing what your self-talk is saying about asking for help. Notice the messages you give yourself, and then practice self-compassion. People will treat you as you treat yourself. If you begin to give yourself a break, so will the people around you. Step
3: Take a leap – of faith, that is. Just maybe if you don’t do everything yourself, your situation will still turn out okay. I know that’s difficult to swallow, but believing — or having faith, actually builds your ability to have compassion. Think of and contemplate a situation that turned out okay even when you did not initially see how that could happen.
Step 4: Ask! This may seem straightforward, but it is not. This step is where all the unconscious blocks begin to scream in your head. In addition, you might not know who would be willing to help. Start there. Make a list of those who might be helpful in various parts of your life. You may be amazed at how many people are on the list. Then begin to ask for help. Start small. Ask someone to take your mail from your mailbox during a trip, or to clear your voicemail each day when you’re out sick, or perhaps pick up some milk while they’re at the store.
Steps 5 and 7: Be grateful and say thanks. These two steps work together for me. Being grateful is a feeling. Saying thanks is the action you can take when you notice the feeling. Do not assume that the person who helped knows you are grateful. Both of you will benefit when you actually express your appreciation verbally or in writing. Can you remember the last time you did that?
Step 6: Listen differently, which is what I call a universal lesson. Listening is a silent action with more force than most words or deeds. Listen with both of your ears. Listen with your eyes. Listen with your heart. When you listen this way it is completely about the other person, not about you or your request. Before you know if the person can or will help, you put that person and their reaction first. You are being compassionate to the person’s possible discomfort, appreciating his or her hesitance, and acknowledging their right to not fulfill your request. Listening well gives the person the faith that your request is really a request, and not a command. It also strengthens your faith that you will be heard.
Self-help is a misnomer in some ways, because you can’t possibly help yourself if you don’t first learn how to ask for help. With action on your part, the book Mayday! can help you turn self-help on its head and create real results.
To Your Success!!!!!!!!