My client, Kay*, has been struggling for months. Like many entrepreneurs, she managed to embroil herself in two startups. At first, she was excited, thinking she could easily do it all. After all, she had partners and staff in one business, and that left her lots of time, at least in theory, to grow the other business.
Only, it didn’t exactly turn out that way. Just a few months in, and the staff in the first business majorly screwed up, leaving the partners scrambling to fix the damage. This crisis shifted Kay’s attention from her fledgling law practice just when it was starting to take wing. Throw in one family crisis and soon Kay felt way in over her head and ready to throw up her hands and call it quits.
She felt alone, stuck and, worse, incompetent, even though she was far from any of those things.
In fact, Kay is highly skilled and experienced, surrounded by intelligent, resourceful people eager to help her problem-solve. She also has many more choices than she realizes. She’s just too close to the problem to see them.
When we are in crisis-mode, it can be so easy to forget all we already know. We can feel overwhelmed. We can feel more easily confused, distracted, and frustrated, and often catch ourselves bumping into walls, both metaphorically and physically.
The one thing Kay could have done to pull herself out of the situation sooner is the one thing she was avoiding most: Asking for help.
Not only was she avoiding asking for help, she was actively running from it (though she likely wasn’t even aware that’s what she was doing).
* She never prioritized group calls with her mastermind group—even though every time she showed up for a call, she learned something that helped her greatly in her business, and she felt more hopeful and calm afterward knowing there were other people she could call on if she need help or advice.
* She frequently cancelled scheduled calls with her coach at the last minute because she felt she was “too busy” to work “on” her business, even though every time she talked with her coach she felt calmer and more in control because she had a prioritized action plan, with solutions to the problems she struggled with the most. She also gained much more clarity about what was actually bothering her and what she needed to do to correct the situation.
* She didn’t text or call or throw up a flag to signal to her coach, accountability partner, or any mentors that she was in the weeds big time and needed help…until, that is, she was ready to throw up the white flag of surrender. Instead, she actively hid from them worried they would judge her if she didn’t appear to have it all together. The longer she did this, the more the resentment built-up—resentment toward her partners, her employees, even her spouse (some days, especially her spouse).
At night, she would collapse into bed after her long, exhausting day and wonder: why am I even doing this? Maybe my mother is right. Maybe I should just go get a job with benefits…
But if she did that, she knew she would be giving up on her dream to build her own empire, to own her own law practice, to create wealth and financial security for her family, to be able to create a business that would allow her to have the flexibility to leave in the middle of the day if she desired, to visit her children at school and participate more fully in their lives.
Fortunately for Kay, it wasn’t too late. We were able to able to pull the business out of the ditch before she, and it, sunk under water.
But that’s because this isn’t my first race. I’ve met more than a few high-achieving women who want it all and are willing to do whatever it takes to make it happen, never considering for a moment what will happen if life doesn’t go according to our best-laid plans. I’ve seen women try to hitch that business on their backs and try to pull it out of the ditch all by their lonesome selves. I’ve also been that woman.
I know how hard it was for me to ask for help. How I fought it. How I clung to my two favorite words: “I know.” (I liked to repeat them: “I know. I know.”) Only to find out how little I did know.
And I remember the relief I felt when one of my mentors—a 30-year-legal-veteran—told me: “People will expect you know be a walking, talking encyclopedia of the law, but it is okay to say ‘I don’t know.’ I still to this day say ‘I don’t know.’ And then I say ‘but I will find out.’”
That’s the key, you see. You don’t need to know everything, so let’s just drop that heavy-ass expectation right now, shall we? Ah. Doesn’t that feel much better?
You went to law school to become a lawyer. Now, you’ll spend years “practicing” law and mastering the art of being a great lawyer. If you’ve chosen to be an entrepreneur as well, you’ll always be practicing business as well! Just as soon as you learn one set of skills on your journey from transforming into the CEO of a high-impact, high-revenue-generating practice, you’ll grow, and then you’ll face another challenge.
It’s okay to say “I don’t know what I am doing here.” And, it’s okay to ASK FOR HELP.
In fact, you’d be foolish not to.
Every great business person is surrounded by people who advise, guide, mentor, coach and help them. The highest achievers are life-long learners, in fact.
To this day, I have a team of advisors I call on as I grow my business. You should have advisors, too.
Here’s the key, though: When you get ‘em, call ‘em. The best business advisors are never disappointed in you, only for you. We desire your success as much as you do, and they are standing by to help you.
I work with women lawyers who want to transform from solos to CEOs of high-revenue-generating law firms—and do so while still having a life. If you think you need help to make the leap it’s time to ask for what you need. Click here so that we can chat.
*Kay is not my client’s real name and a few of the facts have been slightly modified to disguise her identity. However, the situation it’s meant to illustrate is real, and it has been a common experience among many clients through the years.