Mistakes people make while seeking help

A thread...
Seeking help is the most fundamental way of learning.

When we think of seeking help, we mostly think people.
But if we broaden the definition, it becomes obvious that we can seek help from anything.
Books, videos, tools.

The key is "what are you seeking help for"
I am privileged to be in a spot where a lot of people reach out seeking help.

Over the last few years, here are some very avoidable mistakes I have regularly observed people make.
Ignoring the difference between knowledge, help and advice

Knowledge is what one needs to know.
The basics.
Something that today a focused google search can get you.

Help is what you seek when you are stuck.
When you have attempted something and it isn't working.
Help is what you need when you have NO IDEA what to do next and everything that is available as knowledge isn't helping.

So you have to now rely on experience and not just knowledge.
We seek knowledge when we are starting.
We seek help when we have attempted something.
I need help with how to write a resume
(what you need is knowledge - around resume formats, common mistakes, dos and donts)

I have applied and gotten rejected at the resume stage itself. Made changes and still nothing's happened. I need help.
Advice, on the other hand, is what we seek/need when we have to identify ways of doing something.

"I am confused between Economics or Maths as my core subject. Do you have any advice here?"

Advice, imo, rests between knowledge and help.
When we get advice instead of help or help instead of advice, our needs are not met.

Knowing the difference is key to getting help.
Not knowing where you need help

Because most of us are confused between knowledge, help and advice - we rarely know where we need help.

So to cover all bases, we ask for generic help.

"I need your help on fundraising, team building and marketing"
(Email from yesterday!)
If you ask for generic help, you will get generic help. Things that lack insight and are full of platitude.

Best help is one that is specific.
Best help follows the CAR approach
Context, Actions, Results

What is your context, what are the actions you took and what were the results (that perhaps didn't work). You are stuck and hence need help.

This will lead you to the best books, videos, people who can help you.
Being disrespectful of people's time

The best way to get help, is to make it easy for people to help you.
Most people don't

"I want to be respectful of your time so will keep it short. I am confused in my career and don't know what to do. Please help."
(email from yesterday)
"I am looking for help to connect me to investors. Attached is my business plan. Let me know of your feedback"
(email from yesterday)

Both these examples lack empathy.
They make it hard for people to help them.
Because in order to help them, they will have to spend time understanding the context, synthesizing it and then figuring how they can be of help.

Not something most people will do.
When seeking help, help them see how they can help.
Assuming on their behalf / being apologetic

No one wants to help those who start with "I am sorry for saying this but..." or those who say "this isn't worth your time but I am giving it a shot"

Do not assume on behalf of others.
Do not undersell your need for help.
You need help and it is important for you.
So go ahead and ask in the best manner possible.

And if it is important for the other person, they will help.
If it isn't, they might not.
And that's ok too.
It isn't about you.
Not share progress

Most people help because it makes them feel good about themselves. I do it for that.

And nothing makes me happier, than to know that my help helped someone.

A common mistake people make, is to not return to those who helped you.
Reach out to those who helped you and tell them how much they helped you.

It completes the cycle of help and feeds the desire to help even more.
Seeking help is one the of most courageous and precious things we can do.

It ties in wonderfully with my biggest life lesson
"If you do not ask, the answer is always no"

It is also an art.
If you know how to seek help the right way, imagine the opportunities it creates for you.
It is unfortunate that this life skill is never taught to us formally.
This should be a core course in every school and college.

In the absence of it, we are left with no choice but to learn from doing.
So go ahead.
Ask for help.

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