Shameless Self-starter #2: No Fear in Asking for Help.
I once lived with intimidating words that kept telling me no one is interested in the work that I do, nor will they find it good enough. As a result, I spent a good many years of my life not actually going ahead with certain plans and dreams that I had harboured for a long time.
I hid within the comforting nest of work that was given to me by others to do, telling myself that it was much better than trying to ‘pursue those unrealistic dreams’.
Did you know that it is easier to face rejection for things that matter less to you? But the more desirable your dreams are in your heart, the more you might fear making them happen, for fear of failure, and fear of rejection. That was how it was like for me.
Throwback to two months ago, when I finally plucked up enough courage and steam to move into a new season that would not give me the same safety-net that office jobs used to provide for me. As a new business owner, as well as a young apprentice coach and athlete with no major accolades under my belt, the first step for me to get started was this: To put myself out there, and ask for support.
The thought of having to put myself out there gave me mild anxiety.
Whenever I posted my work related articles or marketed myself on LinkedIn, I would get a huge wave of worry about what the other industry experts will think of me. I felt like, I am the small fry. That I have no clout or not enough experience.
Whenever I organised events for the local Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu community, I hesitated before approaching the black belt coaches to get them to advocate my events to their gyms. I had been brushed off before. Did I have the right to ask them for support now?
I was spearheading many initiatives important to me, but I worried about whether my friends cared, and whether they would want to support me.
I also equated ‘no support’ to ‘not liking me’.
It’s really crazy how lies can come up and tell you all the reasons why you shouldn’t be doing what you do.
One day, a unique challenge presented itself and I found myself forever changed by the experience.
Earlier this year, I had purchased flight tickets to Tokyo with the hopes of participating in a major Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu tournament. However, after stepping out of my fixed paycheck job, I began to feel like it was better to be prudent. It seemed foolish to spend on something that I could do without.
Some friends challenged me to consider raising funds to go ahead with the tournament. I laughed nervously at the idea. “Seriously?! Who on earth will want to entertain a girl — a nobody — who needs money to compete overseas?”
And as I said that, I felt a prick of conscience that I could not ignore — it was God Himself challenging me to embrace the truth:
I was actually really afraid to ask, because I thought I was not significant enough to get support. I didn’t want to be embarrassed by the immense amount of rejection that I thought I would receive.
I was presented with two options.
To play conservative with my plans, and sit out the tournament.
Or, to bite the bullet, jump in and initiate a fundraiser, and taste, for the first time, what it would be like to ask for help in getting to a goal that mattered a lot to me.
I chose option two.
With much nail-biting and a whole lot of cringing, I sent out messages to people in my community to ask for their contribution to help me compete, and to come for a fundraising dinner which I would throw for them.
I will be lying if I said I was 100% not worried about what some of them were thinking. The words went through my head from time to time: “Shameless”, “Annoying”, “Who do you think you are??”, and “What a spammer” (I had sent two messages and they were pretty long).
But I refused to agree with those words. Instead, I hung on to the internal challenge I felt like God was presenting to me — to overcome the fear of putting myself out there. To develop ‘thicker skin’.
And also, to be un-offendable, regardless of response.
And, you know what I learned from this eventually? That even if 80% of my friends ignored my message, I didn’t have to take offence. Just because they didn’t help me out, it didn’t mean that they disliked me or found my cause dumb. Perhaps, they didn’t have a budget to support me financially, or they simply didn’t feel compelled to assist at that moment. After all, I’ve gone through this myself.
Even before I received any responses, I made a decision to love my friends, regardless of the responses I received.
Did I get ignored or rejected? Oh yes. Yes, I did. But it was less brutal than my imagination had played it out to be. I also received positive responses from many of my friends who were nothing short of encouraging and wanted to help me succeed. In the end, I raised triple the amount of what I had set out to achieve.
I made it to Tokyo for the tournament, and completely surprised myself by topping my division with a gold. All because I dared to put myself out there and ask for help in the first place.
But it wasn’t just the reward that I received at the end that I was overjoyed about. I found myself stronger from the experience. I no longer feared putting myself out there. I managed to cull the lies that once told me that I was not worthy enough to ask for support from others. That, too, was such a great victory.
My message to the reader is this — if you’ve got something valuable to offer, you’ve got to get it out there and ask for support.
It is true that not every initiative will receive the same results as the one I achieved in my experience. But getting rejected or not being able to receive enough support does not mean we are unworthy creatures, nor does it mean that people hate us.
When we learn to have the right perception of ourselves, and of the people around us, we will be able to boldly go ahead and share these valuable dreams with others.
Things happen when we are bold enough to do this:
- We can take risks, which means we get to run more tests on our initiatives and find out what works and doesn’t work.
- We discover hidden dreams, talents, and possibilities.
- We inspire others to be bold as well.
Hopefully, my story has given you the inspiration to do something different. Whether it’s with your personal perception of yourself and others, or if it’s the push for you to go forth with your initiatives, let this tale motivate you to be better today.