Nobody Does It Alone

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Simple fact…we need help!

Simpler fact, we need even more help asking for help!

At least I do. Whether it’s learning to blog, researching a new market, launching a business, snowboarding, being a good father, husband, partner and, well, just person…I need help.

And, I have to tell you, for the better part of my life, I’ve denied this.

Hell, I’ve outright fought against it. My thought process went something like this, “I’m pretty smart, I work harder and faster than anyone I know, I can learn entire new fields in the blink of an eye. And, though it often takes an ounce of blood and a whole lot of pain, I almost always achieve what I’m shooting for. So, really, why would I need anyone else to help me out? All other people do is muck up MY process!”

That’s how I lived, until I realized what I was doing…

It’s about that line “though it often takes an ounce of blood and a whole lot of pain.” For decades, I assumed it had to be that way. It was my fate. Karma unfolding. But, you know what Einstein said, insanity is, “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

How could I know life could be different if I never tried a different way?

So, partly out of sheer exhaustion, getting older and the bewilderment that comes from accepting that, as a new dad some seven years ago, the better part of the time, you haven’t a clue about the intelligent thing to say, do or feel to “succeed” as a dad, I began to relent to the idea that…

Maybe, just maybe, there was another way.

And, very uncharacteristically, I began to ask for help.

Heck, I begged for help.

And, here’s something cool. When I stopped “doing the same thing over and over again,” when I let go of the notion that flying solo was the only was, I began to get a different result.  Answers, solutions and success came faster. The blood and pain devoted to the process lessened dramatically, if not entirely vanished.

And, instead of other people mucking up my process…

The knowledge and ease I gained by simply letting people who knew more than me in profoundly accelerated my journey and sharing that journey became a newfound joy. A fringe benefit of bringing other along for the ride.

In business, mentors, partners, managers and staff joined as a family to allow me to accomplish what I ever could have done alone. And, in my personal life, simply asking questions of people close to me, yet far more experienced in the ways of being a good dad, husband and son…and being open to their answers has added so much to my ability to nourish my relationships.

Does it always work like this?

No, some of the people I’ve leaned on HAVE not only mucked up my process, but well, just change the first letter in the phrase “mucked up” and you’ll get what happened. No doubt, I’ve had some near-disastrous couplings. But, they were all recoverable and, over time, you get better at finding and involving the right people.

Find human catalysts…

So, take a look at what’s going on in your life right now and ask if there’s someone else you can find, let in, team with or share your journey with who’ll make your vision faster, easier, more enjoyable or allow you to succeed on a level that’d be near impossible to achieve (or at least take a LOT longer) on your own.

Then, beg, borrow or steal to get them on your team.

In business, these people are your mentors, peer advisers, mastermind partners, management team, and family of employees. In life, they may be your partners, spouses, therapists, friends and more.

And, they generally fall into two categories, advisers and actors.

Those who offer insight that moves your journey ahead. And, those who offer action that moves your journey ahead. On, rare occasion, you’ll find both qualities in a single person. If and when you do, treasure that relationship. It is pure gold.

So, what do YOU think?

Have you ever relented to allowing someone else in after resisting fiercely for anywhere from minutes to decades?

How’d it work out?

Or, are you still in go it alone mode?

What’d I miss?

Let’s discuss…

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22 responses

22 responses to “Nobody Does It Alone”

  1. I do a lot alone, but I think I know by now when to ask for help. Not sure.

  2. BGreen says:

    Your words ring so true today! Letting others in is difficult, at least for me, because as you so eloquently stated, it can really muck up a situation.

    I’m now practicing the art of opening doors to working with others and then step back and see who walks in. Yes, a timid approach but developing the muscle for more strenuous activity soon.

    Thanks for sharing your journey!

  3. Pete says:


  4. Stacey says:

    I reached the point where doing it alone would not take me where I wanted to go. And, quite frankly I was getting tired of it. I’ve now begun to surround myself with a great support system and opportunity has opened up as a result.

  5. Jonathan,

    I really appreciate this post.

    I echo the same process you experienced in asking for help.

    I wanted to contribute an idea.

    When I first started my company, I decided to form an Advisory Board. I have found people who are excellent in different areas of life and business. They are people who care enough to tell me the truth, even when it hurts me.

    We meet Quarterly Virtual Meeting. Health of the company, expenses review, revenue, investments, project choice, marketing, P.R., etc…

    They are asked to hold me accountable and make myself & my company better.

    If you pick the right people they will care enough to be invested in you and your company simply by asking for their help.

    I keep them supplied in Oregon Pinot and they keep me on track.

  6. Kelly says:

    As a freelancer, problogger, paid social networker, I have struggled with trying to be many things to many people. Then I struggled with whether I should start a “business” with other people like me under one banner name (hated the idea). I don’t want to be responsible for anyone else. I know that sounds terrible.

    I’ve managed by referring a lot of business elsewhere to people I feel really good about and making clear that the work is autonomous from me. Thus, I fill a client need and send some money love out into the world without the concern of having someone else “muck up” my business.

    This comment SOUNDS stingy but it hasn’t worked that way in real life. So far, everyone seems happy!

    Thanks Jonathan for yet another useful post.

  7. Mark says:

    Great post and very timely for me. Thank you!

    I’m going it alone and failing. But reaching out to others for help is proving to be a big mental barrier for me. Fear of being ignored or having my request be perceived as inappropriate, I guess.

    How to you ask/beg for help in a way that will be taken well and might even get a positive response?

  8. Most of us really enjoy the opportunity to help others. It’s a rewarding and satisfying experience. One way to get over the tendency to resist asking for help is to think of it from the other person’s perspective. Wouldn’t they enjoy the chance to help out? Don’t we want them to have that joy?

    I struggle with asking for help myself and use this type of reframing to get over it. I never want to deny someone else the joy of giving.

    Great post – Thanks

  9. Ouch! You touched a tender spot.

    I have always resisted asking for help until I absolutely run out of all other options. I still struggle with taking people on my team and pulling them into a project. And yet, I have experienced the benefits of doing so.

    The times that folks have “mucked” up my projects and progress make me gun shy.

    I’m happy to report that I am better. At one time I wouldn’t even call tech support for help with my computer because I didn’t want to accept that I didn’t know. And, I feared that I wouldn’t even know the answer to those opening questions: what operating system are you using? Yikes!

    I’ve finally gotten over fear of asking for tech help and all things computer.

    I’m still working on forming a team with projects.

  10. Nice reminder, and the photo is much easier on the eyes that the beach jogger one.

    It seems to be a habit for many of us, something picked up early, a less than conscious belief that it’s a virtue to white knuckle it, and go it alone. I’m a big believer in looking for those around us that might be able to be of help, though I’m sure I miss opportunities to do this. I like Jonathan’s idea above of using empathy to remind ourselves that most of us like being asked to weigh in with our expertise where we have it.

  11. Martin says:

    I am in go it alone mode, but trying to make the transition to asking for help and including more people. Their is only so much a person can achieve on their own.
    I wander if this habit of working on my own has something to do with my personality? Or because I haven’t developed good inter personal skills?
    I am sure part of my problem is when I do ask for help I don’t direct questions to the right people. So maybe my problem is my circle of contacts is too small?
    Where are good places to look for help?

  12. Haha. Great post there Jonathan.

    I haven’t quite tried out the “Then, beg, borrow or steal to get them on your team.” approach. Even for the multi-author blog that I’m on, the team was just simply included. 🙂


  13. Jonathan Fields says:

    @ everyone – Hey, I figured I need to make up for the last photo with a really nice inspiring one! 🙂

    Seems like so many of us have developed a tendency to want to go it alone. Partly out of fear of being rejected if we ask others and partly out of a sense of pride.

    A few people asked how you can ask others for help without getting snubbed of shot down. That question, alone, is very telling about the way you value yourself or your quest in relation to others.

    One big piece of advice here is to stop role playing the entire conversation in your head and actually HAVE the conversation in real life. You don’t know how it will unfold until you ask. But, all too often, we spin it into a rejection scenario in our heads, effectively stopping us from actually going out and asking.

    Most people really DO like to help others, I know I do, even if I am busy. So, when someone comes to me to help out on a project, answer a question or offer guidance, provided I have the time and it’s an area of interest to me, I’ll often join in the conversation.

    So, come from a place of passion, develop your ideas and your questions as fully as possible…then get out of the convo in your head and into the convo in REAL life. Ask! It’s the only way to get a real not hypothetical answer.

  14. Tim Chambers says:

    I appreciate the comments as well, having learned the same thing. For me, it was how much time I wasted doing what I wasn’t good at (but determined to figure out) instead of letting others do what they do best (for me) and me instead doing what I do best.

    My trouble is identifying what my needs are and what kind of people I need to accomplish a goal. For example, implementing a new business idea in an area that I have a good idea but not the knowledge. Still trying to figure out how to move efficiently there.

    Thanks for the good insights and ponderables!

  15. One of the hardest things to do for most people is to ask for help. I see this all the time in my students. There are students who struggle all year and never ask me for help. Sometimes I don’t notice it right away and by the time I am able to say something to them and encourage them to come see me for help, they are already far behind.

    In business, we need to know where are strengths are and where are weaknesses are. It is vital to find people to help fill in the gaps of your weaknesses.

    I also find that I learn a lot from others through what they have written or said in speeches. I have several people around the world who I consider a mentor in one area of life or another. Many of these people I have not even met, and those I have met often do not know that I consider them my mentor.

  16. Ellen says:

    Great post, Jonathan, and so true.

    Here’s something I learned from my husband: I used the phrase, “One does what one can,” then threw up my hands in a gesture that said something like “That’s all you can do,” or maybe a gesture of giving up or helplessness.

    He said he had heard it differently. “One does what one can and buys the rest at the store.”

    Oh, yes. So much can be bought (hiring help) or borrowed (mentors, friends, advisors. It changed my life.

    So now, I’m more and more doing what I can and asking for help with the things I can’t do or that are not a good use of my time.


  17. I believe Henry Ford attributed a lot of his success to his ability to surround himself with people who were smarter.

    You mentioned masterminding. If people aren’t familiar, Napolean Hill may have been the first to discuss the concept in his book “Think and Grow Rich”.

  18. Xeres says:

    Nice story, but predictable.
    I could be jealous of you, but I’m not. I’m happy you had it all, even the time to recall made mistakes.
    Probably I’m out the group you usually adress this to, but I’m a renegade myself. Got nothing for free, not even a family. I’m definitely not where I should be. But I know, when and if I meet some good people, I’ll get there soon enough. I need someone to do ‘it’ for. But women that beg…sad. Never.

  19. Melissa says:

    funny how when you need inspiration, it finds you! I have entered into a time in my life where I can choose to either sink deeply or pull my head out of my ass and ‘ask for help’! I have always been the one lending a hand…the roles are reversed. Not an easy thing to realize that I needed help in so many ways – financial, emotional, carreer – in helping others, I forgot about myself. I had no idea how powerful it is to ask for help. I always thought that it was a sign of weakness. Quite the opposite. I do think that there is a balance of asking for too much help. One needs to stay grounded with that one!

  20. […] and 2) you’re not likely to get much help in the initial phases. You won’t have to do it all alone, and if you tried to do so, you would probably fail. But the start begins and ends solely with […]

  21. niki21 says:

    Fear the big engine to a victory.