I gave the invocation at my Toastmasters group meeting last week. This part of the meeting is designed to be inspirational and set the tone. A few days prior to my delivering this 1 to 3 minute speech, I gathered my thoughts. What did I want to say?
I thought about a helpful meeting I had with a friend recently. I thought about it being the day before my 38th birthday and what I had learned myself over the past year. Finally it came to me. I offered two pieces of advice to the attendees:
1) Ask for help, and
2) Self promote.
These are two notions I spoke vividly on with my fellow Toastmasters because I believe they are important lessons that I’ve learned in my thirties, concepts that I’ve changed my mind about since my twenties and younger.
The thing is that for some odd reason, I used to view asking for help as a sign of weakness. Crazy, right? Because it isn’t. It’s quite the opposite.
Asking for help, looking for a mentor, is a big strength indicator. Asking for feedback is a sign you want to grow, improve and reach new potential. Realizing that we cannot do it alone takes courage.
We should ask for help. We should ask for guidance to check our gut, see if we’re on the right track, bounce off ideas and look at new perspectives. We should ask for assistance to meet a deadline, spend focused time with loved ones, and do more meaningful tasks that can impact others.
After we ask for help and receive it, we should then pay it forward to others. Who can we mentor and help out? How can we share that knowledge and the lessons we learned? It’s a give and take process, one we should never be ashamed of.
I’m so glad I see that now. When I’ve not been given an opportunity, a job or a role I wanted, I always asked why. I asked what I could do differently. I asked how I can strengthen my abilities and my skills. I’ve never been sorry that I asked for help.
I recently heard a great convocation speech by a University of West Florida alumni member, Harriet Wyer. She offered three pieces of her own advice to incoming freshmen. Her first suggestion was exactly the one I gave in my Toastmasters group. She urged students to ask for help, to ask for what they want, and to be specific about it. Wise words Harriet, I could not agree more!
What about after you receive that help and after you’ve learned those important lessons? This led me to my second point I gave in my Toastmasters invocation.
Self promote! Sell yourself. Share your newfound skills, talents and knowledge.
Again, years earlier I thought this was “bragging” or being boastful. Those words have negative connotations associated with them however.
Don’t think of it in that regard. Instead realize that you’ve worked hard. You’ve proven yourself to get to a new level.
Therefore, be proud of your achievements. Talk about them with others and encourage them to share their successes.
Promote yourself. Believe in yourself. If you don’t, how can you expect others to do so?
Again, it’s taken me most of my life to realize this concept. It’s only in the last few years that I read my writing or see an award and think, “Wow, I deserved that. I did well.”
I do not want to seem arrogant. But when any of us put in the time, effort and dedication, it’s not being conceited, it’s real results. And we should be able to confidently speak about the exertion we show and the accomplishments we are making.
So again, I’ll say it. To find reward, success and to live a fuller life, ask for help and self-promote.
Celebrate you and your life’s work!