The hardest 4-letter word to say: Help

We are really good at bullshitting. Like, really good. “How’s things?” “Oh fine!! Fine, fine, fine. You??” Acquaintances will take your response at face value. Close friends might question how genuine you’re being by your voice tone, picking up on subtle cues between the truth and a fib. But even those closest to us, cannot read our minds. Social media posts make it even easier to paint a shiny coating over what an actual reality show of our life would look like.

Scenario one: I tend to over book myself, thinking it’s no big deal to grocery shop, clean the house, walk the dog, answer some work emails, get a workout in, make dessert and a salad, and still have time to shower and pull myself together on a Saturday before heading to a friend’s for a BBQ. Time to departure: 45 minutes. I have yet to shower. Baking just came out of the oven. Salad yet to be made. Instead of freaking out about being behind and starting to make all sorts of stories in my head as to how “it wasn’t my fault I have so much to do”, I asked my husband to help while I hopped in the shower. And guess what? He did. And guess what? We were only 10 minutes late instead of half an hour. There’s no way he could know I needed help until I said something. This is a small example, but relevant none the less.

“Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren't always comfortable, but they're never weakness.” - Brené Brown, Daring Greatly

Asking for help is damn hard sometimes. Asking for help to make a salad? Not such a big deal. But enter scenario two: In the fall I had a minor surgery done and I was not allowed to lift anything over 10lbs for 3 weeks. The stubborn side of me said, "surely that doesn’t apply to me, I can deadlift 1.5x my body weight!" Yup, sure, you’re exempt [enter eye roll]. The day of the surgery and the following week I could feel slight pain every time I moved my core (which, is like, 100% of the time you move). I had to ask my husband for a lot of help, which felt comfortable because of the closeness of our relationship. However, the first time I had to ask a stranger for help it was an incredibly humbling moment to say the least. I usually proudly farmer carry my groceries out of the grocery store, politely declining help from the cashier at the grocery store when they offer carry out. When I had to say, “yes please” the first time I went grocery shopping after the surgery I almost broke into tears right there. How could it be that I couldn’t lift my own groceries??? I’m stronger than this. I’m capable. I don’t need help. I can do this on my own…The good news is, asking for help gets easier the more you practice it. My next stop after groceries was the pet food store, where I would normally grab a 20lb bag of dog food, sling it over my hip and be on my way. This time asking for help to get a bag and take it to my car for me felt a wee bit easier. Easier, but still not easy. You know what the funny thing was? No one once rolled their eyes at me, gave me a weird look, or said anything condescending when I asked for help, contrary to what that silly voice in my head told me might happen. People are genuinely good, I believe that. And when you ask for help, people will respond with kindness. And if they don’t, find new friends and a new grocery store.

"When you don't ask for help when you need it, you assume all of a burden that might easily (and gladly) be shared. But you also deprive those who'd love to assist you of the opportunity to do so. Everyone is worse off." - Margie Warrell, Asking for Help Reveals Strength, Not Weakness

The old saying, “ask, and you shall receive,” really rings true. If there is something you’re struggling with – ask for help. This applies to everything! My husband listened to a podcast the other day about the specificity required for training for competition versus just exercising for pleasure, and one of the quotes that came out of it was, “if you’re your own coach, your coach is an idiot.” Now, don’t get me wrong, we are all responsible for our own happiness and motivating ourselves and keeping things going. But, I love this quote because we cannot overcome our weaknesses without some outside help. I don’t program my own workouts, because I would end up only programming my strengths, the stuff I love to do. I would avoid all the areas I’m weak at, because that shit’s hard and uncomfortable. The same with career, relationships, health, sports – our natural inclination is to veer towards where we’re comfortable and avoid the uncomfortable icky stuff. Enter your coach – in whatever form that may be – to help you address the weak spots, support you and let you know not being awesome at everything is not only a-okay, but is normal and human, and also to be there to celebrate with you when you move past the discomfort.

You don’t need to be the hero every time. You know what every Disney movie has? A hero. You know what every Disney move hero has? A kick ass team behind them supporting them, lifting them up, pushing them and coaching them along the way. You think Simba would have been able to come back and defeat Mufasa without the help of Rafiki and Pumba? Heck no. Simba would be drunk at the Jungle Bar lying passed out under a table in the corner at 4pm in the afternoon, smelling of week old laundry if it weren’t for his two supporters picking his ass up when he needed it.

And if speaking aloud the request for help isn’t quite yet comfortable for you, you can always take a page out of Sandra Bullock’s character in 28 Days – just borrow her sign, “Confront me if I don’t ask for help.”

 

Goal Setting. It works.

Goal setting. We all know it's essential, but once you've got the goal in mind, then what? I'll tell you what. Write that shit down and go tell people about. In the past week I've been reminded of the amazing momentum gained when those two things happen.

I'll explain my odd choice in props here. Last Friday I attended a Goals & Beer Night (unofficial title) at Village Brewery hosted by Lululemon, Dopeame & The Commune. The room was filled with absolutely amazing people, who all had two apparent things in common: a goal of contributing to the health of the community in some way, shape or form (yogis, massage therapists, gym owners, gut health via kombucha, you name it), and a drive to get things done. Part of our night involved writing out our goals & speed dating our way through the room sharing our visions with all the rad individuals in the room. I left feeling like I had a commitment to all those people - I'd spoken the words, I can't just let that fall to the side and die now, can I?

Fast forward to this morning when I cracked open my old laptop - you may have one under your bed, too - the first thick white Mac laptop, that gives the spinning wheel of death every time you move the mouse? I waited patiently while it retrieved what I was looking for - my original goal setting sheets from when I worked at lululemon almost 5 years ago. When I went to lululemon I was pretty lost. I'd had several jobs, and they all ended the same way: almost 2 years to the day at every job I'd hear myself giving the same speech yet again, "it's not you, it's me, really." I'd pack my desk and head to the next desk job. If I can give one piece of advice here - if you feel like you don't fit in to a mold that you grow up thinking you need to fit in because everyone around you is doing it, I'm here to tell you, you probably don't. And what it took me several jobs and a lot of self digging to learn, is that that is okay. Not only is it okay, it's life changing. I didn't like the person I became at other jobs, my stress and anxiety was through the roof, my blood pressure was off the charts, and that unhappiness inevitably spills into the rest of your day and relationships - not just the 9-5.

Back to my ancient laptop. When you work at lululemon, one of your first tasks is to put up your goals on the back wall of the store for everyone to see - health goals, personal goals, and career goals. You start with a 10 year vision, then break it down into small 1 year and 5 year goals, small goals that will help you get to that big vision at the end of the tunnel. The spinning wheel of death was worth the wait. Mind blown. Want to know what I had on my list? Very first words, "I live inner city in a renovated character home, with big shady trees in the front yard, and a private backyard." Check! Little did I know all the renos would be done by my man. Up next: "My husband and I enjoy going to work everyday. We don't work weekends, and when overtime occurs, we're okay with it because we're passionate about what we do and the overtime is an indication our businesses are growing." I can honestly say, yes all around. I love what I do, I love the Calgary community I'm in, and I honestly don't see work as a chore, ever. And you have to understand, writing this at the time seemed RIDICULOUS to me. Coming from jobs where I'd work all day Saturday and Sunday, until 10pm on weekdays, and loathed every minute of it - this sounded like a fairy tale I was writing, not goals. Moving along...while the career section goals changed between the two times I did this exercises (once at Market Mall, and then again at 4th Street), the theme was the same: sports, health, working with people, and having my own practice, in whatever shape that took.

Your action steps for today:

1. You've got your goal. Now write it down - in your daytimer, on your computer, as a note in your phone, on a sticky note, on the back of a napkin. It doesn't matter, just WRITE IT DOWN.

2. Go tell 3 people. Right now. TODAY! Do it. Call your mom. Text your boyfriend. Tell your friend over lunch today. Stand up in your board room right now and announce all that goodness.