On Your Career Journey, Get Help and Give Thanks

BlogHer Original Post

[Editor's note -- If you're changing careers, you're not in it alone. Chances are you've got a small army of helpers, possibly including a coach, teachers, outplacement specialist or mentor, past and present coworkers, family, friends - even the babysitter.This week in the Reinvent Yourself series we're examining how to cultivate such a career support system - and why you should always accept and thank people for help. -- Michelle V. Rafter]

After months of networking and doing all the things that a professional is supposed to do when they're laid off from a 30-year career, Genevieve hit a low point.

During two painfully quiet weeks waiting for the phone to ring, all she felt was discouraged. Then it happened. In a matter of a few days, six invitations for job interviews streamed in along with a solid offer. Marveling at how things could change so quickly, Genevieve was grateful to see the seeds she had planted finally sprouting.

The very first thing she did after accepting an offer was make a list of people to thank. That list had 72 names on it that's 72 people who helped her in some way during her job search. As she set to work writing thank-you notes, Genevieve told me she had "writer’s cramp for a great reason."

Picturing Genevieve writing all those notes got me thinking about my own list of 11 people who -- within a period of two weeks — helped me in some way with a project I'd been working on. Considering that this list would be longer if the snapshot was of a month instead of two weeks, I'd say I'm not shy about asking for help!

attendees at BlogHer Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology conference '11
Attendees at BlogHer Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology conference '11 (this year, called BlogHer Entrepreneurs.)

Opening Up To Help

Rebecca, someone who completed my coaching program last year, called later to tell me how happy she was with the direction she was pursuing, and that after going through a period of uncertainty, she had made great progress. I asked her what made the difference in creating this new momentum. Without hesitation she answered: "Opening up to accepting help. Accepting that we can't do it all. You work it out by letting go. Piece by piece, you learn to let go of many things. Opportunities show up. Things fall into place once you start moving."

My niece Mary Grace, now a college sophomore, wrote about this issue in one of her college application essays. Acknowledging that she previously viewed needing help to be an admission of inferiority, Mary Grace said, "Now I consider the art of asking for help not as a sign of weakness, but of self-assurance, maturity, and courage. So at the risk of appearing imperfect, I ask for help anyway."

Who Can Help You?

Rebecca cites opening up to accepting help as her breakthrough from uncertainty to momentum. Mary Grace now considers asking for help an "art." How good are you at asking for help? If your answer is "not so good," make it a point to get better.

Call to Action:

Within the last 30 days, who has given you some kind of help? Whether it was in large or small way, appreciate the value of what was offered and apply it well.

Name three people who can help you with a current problem or endeavor. Reach out to them now.

I eventually realized that learning comes at least as much through exposure to and interaction with others’ gifts and knowledge as it does through individual effort.— Mary Grace Mangano

Virginia Kravitz is a life and career coach and founder of In the Current, helping accomplished professionals find more fulfilling careers and a greater sense of joy and abandon in life. She is a professional certified coach credentialed by the International Coach Federation, deputy editor of the Now What?® Coaching blog and co-author of the 28 Day Guide: OASIS in the Overwhelm — Rewire Your Brain from Chaos to Calm. Read more on her websiteor biweekly e-zine, Current of Life, or contact her at info@inthecurrent.com.

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Kaplan University provides a practical, student-centered education that prepares individuals for careers in some of the fastest-growing industries. The University, which has its main campus in Davenport, Iowa, and its headquarters in Chicago, is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission (www.ncahlc.org). It serves more than 53,000 online and campus-based students. The University has 11 campuses in Iowa, Nebraska, Maryland and Maine, and Kaplan University Learning Centers in Maryland, Wisconsin, Indiana, Missouri and Florida.

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