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Asking for help

Asking for help

Hi! I’m Courtney Kaplan. I’m a coach, writer, and advisor to leaders and executives. Before coaching, I built and lead a Design Program Management team as a Director at Facebook. It was a discipline I started from scratch at a time of enormous growth at Facebook. It was like going through lifetimes in a few years. Over 20 years in design combined with real-world leadership experience lets me partner with you to get curious and make positive changes in your life and leadership.

In my coaching certification course, the leader started the program by asking, "How many of you are suffering? How many of you are in pain in some area of your life?”

Just about everyone raised their hands.

Then he continued, “How many of you have asked for help?”

Every hand went down.

Every hand.

Why is that?

Why do we suffer silently thinking we can manage through?

In the past few weeks, I’ve had a bumpy road at home and at work - and of course, along with all of the turmoil of the world right now. Nevertheless, I continued to work harder, give more effort, try to “figure it out” on my own. I was determined to singlehandedly get through these challenges even as I felt myself become exhausted and lonely.

The results I (singlehandedly) got included:

  • becoming resentful of my sweet husband
  • becoming irritated with my lovable kids
  • becoming prickly with my dear friends
  • bailing on my exercise program
  • losing sleep as I lie awake in bed feeling enraged and counting my grievances

Yet, I continued to withdraw and fester. I kept reviewing how difficult things were. I kept feeling the frustration, fear, loneliness and then built and rehearsed complicated, detailed, stories of how each worrying situation was going to play out. Have you ever noticed the terrible worlds we create in our own minds?

It’s not a good look. I was not winning in any domain of my life. Not even close. It was not going well and I was ensuring I’d be stuck there awhile.

My “This is bullshit” Moment.

Finally I had my, “This is bullshit” moment.

Have you ever had one of those? That moment when suddenly you catch yourself in your own insanity? You get some perspective on the crazy-making circumstances? You realize you’re done. Like, capital “D”…Done. You know that something needs to change immediately because…”This is bullshit”.

For me, it meant texting a few acquaintances and sharing my struggle. I directly asked for support and advice. It meant making some calls to bring in reinforcements. It meant having a heart-to-heart with my husband about my feelings and where I needed his help. It also meant drastically changing my timeline on a few deadlines and being much more expansive when it comes to my expectations of what can be accomplished in our current circumstances.

Within a day, things magically started turning around. I got advice and expertise I needed. A friend came by for a (socially distanced outdoor) chat and I laughed harder than I have in weeks. Resources appeared. Referrals popped up. Plans changed. My heart was lighter. I could look at my family with more love and patience. I could look at myself with some compassion.

Strangely enough, if I’m really being honest, after i found the support, I hesitated again, “do I really need to hire/buy/sign up for x, y or z? I could probably do it myself.” Oh, some lessons we learn the hard way.

The Team Behind the Dream

Looking back on my life, during the times I was most happy and successful I had a gaggle of people supporting me. I had advisors, babysitters, coaches, personal trainers, partners, assistants, friends, family, women’s circles, mentorship circles, and groceries delivered.

In my most miserable times, I thought I had to do it alone.

It’s a turbulent time. We can each suffer behind a screen, behind a Zoom call, in the privacy of our home or we can take a risk and reach out for support.

Find your team. Enroll some help. Expand your support structure. Participate in a community.

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