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The Green SheetGreen Sheet

The Green Sheet Online Edition

March 23, 2009 • Issue 09:03:02


Just say no to bootstrapping

It seems asking for help has fallen out of style. It is a badge of honor - being strong, going it alone. This code is nowhere more evident than among ISOs and merchant level salespeople - the cowboys of the industry - where individual achievement is prized and rewarded. After all, do the movie stars ever ask for help in those old westerns?

But we all need help from time to time. Unwillingness to seek help can limit your ability to accomplish your goals. It can also isolate you and set you up for disaster. You can probably remember instances in which things would have gone better if you'd only asked for help. Do any of the following scenarios sound familiar?

  • You didn't ask for help changing the water bottle at the office cooler, so you wrenched your back and missed a week of work.

  • You wouldn't ask for directions when you got lost; your tardiness cost you a merchant sale in a new niche market.

  • You didn't ask your colleagues for help, and then you had to work straight through your son's first ballgame.

  • You wouldn't ask someone to check your work and so you turned in a sales report full of errors.

So, why is it so hard to ask for help? Following are four possible reasons.


Pride is not a bad thing in its proper place. Sometimes, however, it can get in your way. If you can't bring yourself to ask your ISO's top closer for advice on how to sell more effectively because you can't admit someone is a better seller than you, then your pride is a problem.


Embarrassment goes hand in hand with pride. If you're worried what your boss, colleagues or friends might think if you ask for help, you have a stumbling block in your path to success. Many people are so concerned with their image that they avoid doing anything that might make them appear foolish, inept or weak. Asking for help is not evidence of any of these things. The real weakness is being fearful about what others think of you.


Will a colleague follow through if you ask for help? If you ask for a favor, will he or she do it right? If these fears sound familiar, then it's likely you don't trust others. Perhaps people have let you down before. And chances are they probably will disappoint you again. So surround yourself with people you can trust. No one succeeds alone, and expecting the worst from people is counterproductive. Sooner or later you have to put a little faith in your fellow man (or woman).


For many, the hardest part about asking someone for help is letting go. This is especially true of type A personalities. You want to make sure the project goes exactly as you think it should, down to the last detail, even if there may be a better way to market a product or sell a service.

But you don't want to risk losing control by asking for a colleague's opinion or for an alternate - perhaps even better - solution. Now that's a problem.

Letting go

If you can recognize these tendencies in yourself and work to change them, the rewards will be many. Here are a few possible outcomes:

  • Delegating clerical functions frees two hours in your work day for prospecting new merchants or checking on existing ones.

  • The person who helps hone your presentation shows you a better way to close. You learn that your way isn't the only way.

  • After your plea for help at a staff meeting, you get better acquainted with associates who answered your call for assistance. You also discover common interests and ways you can help each other in the future.

Begin today to swallow your pride, risk embarrassment, dare to trust and relinquish control. With the help of others, you'll go far. end of article

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