Ask for help, even before you think you need it

This is a multi-part series sharing the lessons I’ve learned on my entrepreneurial journey thus far. Here is the fifth lesson. Read the intro, first, second, third, and fourth lessons, if you haven’t already done so.

We must acknowledge that asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness.

Photo by Neil Thomas on Unsplash

I’ve spent a lot of time over the past few months simply asking people for help. Some old friends. Some new friends. No matter. I’ve asked anyway, because everyone has something of value to contribute no matter their background or experience.

Even when I think I know the answer, I will ask at least one other person for their opinion or assistance. Validation of one’s perceptions and opinions is extremely important along this journey.

And when I do this, I listen for as long as I can without saying a thing. Only then, can I be sure the other person gave me an honest, unfiltered opinion without being influenced by anything I said.

You should ask for help before you need it, because it’s easier to get people to agree then, instead of when you actually do. And even if it’s too early, it will shape what you do in the future when it does matter.

Well-meaning people often say:

“You’ve got this. Go kill it. I know you can.”

They walk away satisfied they’ve been helpful. Sometimes this is true. Often, it is not. While those words of encouragement are fantastic, we then need to pause, and ask:

“Is there anything I can do to help?”

Wait as long as required, while they think. Most importantly, if you agree to help, follow through on the promise; your integrity is at stake.

To everyone who has helped over the past few months, and to those of you who have agreed to, but I’ve yet to follow up with, thank you for your goodwill, time and insights.

This includes a select few who have agreed to help, but have been less than great in following through on that promise. I still appreciate your initial “yes”.

I bring this less than positive point up for one reason, which is part of the lesson, and to articulate this point:

Not everyone who agrees to help actually does. But you need to ask them in the first place. The worst they can say is “no.

We need to get over our fear of hearing “no”. Or being ghosted. I’ve heard “no” or been ghosted more often in the past three months than I have been over the past three years. But I’ve also received more help in the past three months than I have over the past three years.

It is for the positive side of all this, that I am grateful. Because I had the courage to ask.

If you’ve read this far, you’re also the type of person who is likely to follow through on this ask.

Think of one person who could use your help right now, and offer to help them without expecting anything in return. They will be grateful that you took the initiative.

Photo by Alexei Scutari on Unsplash

Finally, if there’s anything I can do to help you, just ask.

Read on for the next lesson.

Ian Yip is the CEO of Avertro, which brings science to cyber story-telling by providing a simple, yet sophisticated executive and board cyber platform that helps organisations tell a compelling story, right-size their cyber program, and understand their cyber-why.

Cyber Risk. Cybersecurity. Business. Tech. Entrepreneur. CEO at Avertro. Former CTO at McAfee Asia Pacific.

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