Being dependent is the opposite of one who is self-reliant. Self-reliant doesn’t necessarily mean you go it alone. On the contrary. Self-reliant means knowing which questions to ask, and having the courage to answer them and act. Mike Myatt wrote a great blog today about “Help – It’s not a dirty Word!” Mike suggests a great question for personal reflection: Are you easy to help?
I’ve often heard people say they were unfortunate in their career because they never had a mentor. I’d suggest that budding leaders attract mentors because they’re easy to help. I’ve had a lot of people ask me to be their mentor, but no one has done it better than Theresa Letman. Her follow-up is without peer, and she might think of our relationship as reciprocal in nature, but I know the balance is in my favor. Theresa is always finding ways to help me learn, connect, and grow. That’s what mentors do, but Theresa operates according to a Latin Proverb:
By learning you will teach; by teaching you will understand.
When it comes to asking for help through mentors, my guiding principles are to connect with people that are gracious, trustworthy and fun. Myatt wrote, “My personal and professional network are far more important to my success than my individual competencies.” My good friend, Bud Ahearn, often says that he only needs to find out one thing when he interviews people: Are they a giver or a taker? That’s what I mean by gracious. Someone that helps will be gracious by nature. If you’re getting help, you’re also going to show some vulnerability, and finding a mentor that’s trustworthy is critical. Lastly, life’s too short not to spend time with people where you can be yourself – and that in and of itself is what defines an enjoyable relationship.
The essence of Myatt’s blog is that you can choose a narcissistic, ladder-climbing route, or you can be “the hub at the center of a large and diverse network” where you’re not afraid to ask for help… or lend a hand. We need leaders like you!