The Cost Of Being Cool. The Myth That Keeps Us From Getting What We Want

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Ask anyone worth his weight in salt – which I just found out is $9.5 for me so maybe that is not a good analogy anymore – and he’ll tell you that the fastest way to getting support of an answer to something is to ask for some input or feedback.

So why the hell can’t we ask for it most of the time?

Myth: When we ask for help we are admitting we aren’t as put together as we seem and thus, people will be annoyed and will not respect us.

Somehow, the image of calm and collected is what matters most to the outside world. Ice in his veins. A poker face. Courage under fire. James Bond is so damn cool because he is…so damn cool. He always calmly knows what to do no matter the ludicrous life-threatening situation he finds himself in. Even after he jumps from an excavator in a suit onto a moving train that is tearing apart the very train he’s on, he fixes his cufflinks first. Control at all costs. This is all part of my plan, folks.

Why do we love the scene in Pulp Fiction where Jules essentially emasculates Ringo in broad daylight through an existential conversation all while keeping Yolanda calm, confident, respected and not peeing her pants? Because he’s like Fonzie, he’s cool. He already knows what to do in this mother-of-all breakfast-interrupting situations. Social equity is never hoarded more than it is through seeming “cool”. Look at any ad in any men’s or women’s style magazine. Composure in any situation is essentially every marketing angle.

Unfortunately, this thinking has bled into our work life too. Requested help is accepted when we are in school, on an athletic team, or trying to lose weight but we feel like social pariahs if we need help in our career or creative endeavor. The moment that something is tied to our income is now the instance when advice is least socially acceptable. How insane is that?

The ridiculous reality is that even though we value the image of control and surety in professional and entrepreneurial environments, skin deep we’re all freaking the fuck out about something.

Embracing that fact and tapping into it will be your greatest asset. Yes, there are people who know more than you about things, but they don’t know more than you about everything. They have their own doubts they’re wrestling with. They are questioning their place in the world too.

So let’s go back to the myth: People will be annoyed and lose respect for you if you ask?

Let’s paint a scenario and you tell me what’s true or not. You have been at your job, or doing whatever it is you are doing for a year. Out of the blue, one of your colleagues or someone who has been a fan of yours asks if she could pick your brain regarding your expertise on a subject.

Would you ever in a million years think she was stupid, ignorant or an idiot? Would you ever, under any circumstance tell other people in a condescending way, “So this one girl asked me for advice and if I would help her…I know right?! What an IDIOT! I can’t believe she doesn’t know this yet.”

Of course not. You’d probably gain respect for her and go out of your way to help. Anytime I’ve asked a colleague for help they have filled my cup of knowledge and included a meniscus on top for good measure.

So what else is holding us back?

Our egotistical problem when it comes to seeking help from colleagues or peers is that we don’t like to give people the satisfaction of knowing more than us, not just for his ego, but because what it says about our place in the pecking order.

Get over yourself. Quickly. Because no one is sitting around thinking of creative ways to help you in her spare time.

Sure, we don’t like our perceived intelligence or know-how to be meddled with, but until we can admit that we need help, no one will extend a hand because no one knows that one is needed. I re-learned this the other day when I was looking for feedback regarding a project I was working on. I was nervous about asking some people in my inner circle and even some people not in it because of the myths above. Once I got over my own neurosis, people were ready to help, in fact, ready to go above and beyond.

So go and ask. I know there is something you have been delaying because you are afraid to ask. Whatever it is, I challenge you to ask today. Your heart will race, your palms will be embarrassingly sweaty and your ego will send a “WTF!” text but don’t let any of those culprits force you to swallow your tongue and live a muted experience from the one you are trying to live. They are just a minor byproducts of vulnerability.

And as Brene Brown said, “Your experience in this life cannot exceed your willingness to be vulnerable.”

What’s holding you back?