I’ve been an entrepreneur my entire life. I spent my formative years tossing around business ideas with glee. My parents were happy to listen and help me formulate my half-baked plans to change the world through hand bound books, jewelry and design, and of course…Lemonade and child care for families in my neighborhood.
It was with great abandon that I embraced entrepreneurship. But I was loathe to accept help. Sure my parents were fantastic with helping me brainstorm, and I welcomed the brain power, I did acknowledge that they had wisdom beyond my years.
But… I never allowed them to help me.
I made the lemonade, I found the stores to sell my jewelry in, I found clients when I started my first marketing company. I took pride in being a DIY master of everything, and the learning process of figuring it all out was part of the joy in the entrepreneurial process. I was an only child, and thought that being self-sufficient increased my potential for success.
Whatever I couldn’t figure out, I tirelessly researched. If I didn’t know how to do it, I taught myself through the power of the internet. Need to make a business card? Learned Photoshop. Didn’t know how to take decent images for my website? Read books on photography and borrowed a camera. Need a website? Built it myself.
But in 2014, I learned something that radically rocked my world.
I need help.
After nearly 30 years of 100% DIY and exercises in self-sufficiency I did what felt previously unthinkable and joined a mastermind for women entrepreneurs hosted by Natalie MacNeil. I won’t lie, I was utterly and completely reticent to join at first. The idea of sharing in community was terrifying. The idea of needing someone else to help my business succeed? Baffling.
And yet, I handed over my entire December 2013 revenue to her and the Conquer Concord. To say it was a turning point in my business would be an understatement. For the course of an entire year, I immersed myself deeply into community and allowed myself to be washed over with support, presence, and joy. And during this process an amazing thing happened.
I Found Business Kindreds and Sisterhood
My former wife has 6 sisters and a brother. I have zero siblings. And I always thought it strange to be so in deep with family. I always knew I could ask my parents for help, but I held a reticence. But to be fair, with our family of 3, I didn’t have a support network with such deep lattice work. Until I married into it. And it hit me, that having community and family that supports you is so important.
And while I had that in my newly minted family through marriage, I didn’t have it in my business. Finding a safe space for sisterhood in my mastermind created a place for me to hang my hat and find support. And in opening myself up by joining a group of like-minded people, I expanded.
I was burst open.
After 3 decades of being shut up and shut down, afraid of being seen and radically transparent I was held. Tightly. Supported and accepted for all the quirks and wildness I possessed. My heart expanded, and I realized I could be in deep community. I was finally seen. I could open my heart to friends, family, and colleagues that deeply desire to help.
Turns out that asking for help is scary, but receiving it is easy
The first step to accepting help was in the asking. I have always been good at ‘the ask’ in terms of sales. Asking for money didn’t bother me. Asking people to buy girl scout cookies? A cake walk, and meant I was the best cookie seller for six years and in three troops. Getting people to sign on the dotted line for a contract? Easy.
Asking for help? HA! You could have cut the tension on my first mastermind call when I had to make an ask for someone to help me with a piece of my negative mindset. Her response? Positive beyond belief. So I melted into it. And in 2014, I asked nearly 1000 people to help me in one way or another. Help to spread the word about my programs. Hired help for various parts of my copy. Asked my wife for help with operations stuff. The list goes on.
It turned out that I was afraid of the ‘no’ when it came to asking for help. But that if I didn’t attach to the outcome of the request, I could ask. And I could accept that help. And in accepting that help I discovered a 30 year addiction.
I was addicted to being self-sufficient.
Being raised as an only child I spent a lot of time on my own, entertaining myself and building things without the help of others. And in doing so for nearly 3 decades, I had created an addiction to the notion of ‘no, I can do it’. I realized that I had spent my life saying “I’ve got this”, “I can do it”, “Thanks for your offer but no thanks” rather than saying “thank you” and allowing people to help me. And it was addicting because it was joyous to DIY things, pride in my work was easy. But it didn’t leave room for expansion. It left me collapsed in on myself.
And while I loved doing everything I wanted and all by my lonesome…I discovered it was just that, LONELY.