Why Tradies Need to Ask For Help and Become More like The Bald Ibis

The bird is ugly. But it’s true that it gave me a lesson about asking for help that I wanted to share with you. Get to that in a minute…

Firstly, a Quick Quiz:

Which, out of the options below, is the hardest for you?

A. Thinking of something you are grateful for.
B. Asking for help.
C. Solving a problem for someone else.

If you chose B. Asking for help, you’re not alone.

Actually, with the independent tradie mentality this is a difficult one for most. Why is that? I’ll get to that in a moment…

I always thought I was good at asking for help until I ran into an exact situation where I wasn’t.
One of our tradies recently wrote off one of our work vehicles (awesome…not!… he was ok though), and of course, it made me relinquish my ute for the team to use. It put us down to one car.

Now for most, this wouldn’t be a problem, except for the fact that our kids have numerous clashing extra curriculum sporting events after school (you know what I mean right!). Having us both hands-on with the kids makes it’s easy – Ange goes one way and I go the other. Not lately.

The juggling to drive, drop, drive, pickup…. has been painful to say the least. The energy wasted just trying to work out how to manage our kids sporting social life is exhausting!
Although it caused us grief, we didn’t want to ask for help. Not from friends or the in-laws who, might I add, only live 2minutes away.

Funnily enough any other kind of help I am generally ok about; asking the in-laws: would you mind picking up the kids from school today? Could you pick up some milk on your way over to visit?

But when it came to borrowing their car or asking them to take the kids to their event I felt uncomfortable. The kids are my responsibility.

I’ve witnessed this situation in many circumstances, not just in a personal sense: we were on a ‘Getting Started Meeting’ with a new member where we tailor their first 90 days based on their key challenges. It gives them absolute clarity and focus… It was in this meeting that he said something that absolutely floored us.

He said “It took me 13 years to realise there is something that I don’t know. Watching others around me doing well. Buying new things. Asking myself what am I doing wrong?

Friends always talked me out of speaking to a coach. I’ve opened my eyes to ‘what I don’t know’. At the end of the day ‘I’ve never been taught’. If I want to learn, I need to go out and find people to teach me. Thankfully I found you. I don’t want to be in a rut anymore

Sadly, it’s not the first time we’ve heard words similar… but, it’s a common idea. Why? Stick with me, and I’ll share why it’s a natural reaction for tradies. Perhaps you’re like it too…


Why is asking for help so hard?

I don’t know why asking to borrow my in-laws car was so hard. I think it had to do with the idea that I should have been able to do it myself. On my own.

The fact that we are extremely independent and often say to yourself “I should be able to do this”. It was this feeling that our member had; that he SHOULD be able to operate a successful trade business without anyone’s help, but as he said ‘I’ve never been taught!’

The most common reasons for not asking for help are: not wanting to admit weakness, believing that being anything less than independent is unacceptable, and thinking it’s not okay to ask for help for things that we should be able to do.

But we better add one more in there, too: the belief that no one can do things as well as we can. Put all of these together and it’s pretty safe to say they all fall under the umbrella of wanting and needing a high degree of control.
The thing is, doing everything ourselves, when in fact you aren’t skilled or capable of doing it all is, is simple madness.

It’s exhausting!


Why we should be more like Bald Ibises

Kids homework teaches us parents a thing or too (is that the real reason they have homework?), like my recent education on the Northern Bald Ibis.

These endangered birds were given another chance by an Austrian conservation agency that raised some young Ibises and taught them how to follow a microlight aircraft. The aircraft led them along their once-regular migration routes in order to re-establish the flock in its old range.

This gave the scientists a unique opportunity to obtain data to answer an age-old question: Why do some birds fly in a V-formation?

The scientists found that the formation allowed the birds to fly efficiently because the lead bird did most of the work breaking the air in the front of the pack while the two birds that followed could draft along behind its wings. And those two birds created a draft for the birds behind them and so on.

Every once in awhile, the bird at the front of the V floats to the back of the pack and someone else takes its place.

But there’s one more thing the scientists learned from the Ibises:

Flying in a V isn’t just about staying in the right place. It’s also about flapping at the right time.

The birds somehow know the most efficient timing in which to flap their wings to take advantage of the best drafting available to them. Remarkably, an Ibis following behind another will trace the same wing path that the bird in front of them just took. It’s very much like walking in someone else’s footprints in soft sand: it’s easier and you save a lot of energy.


We all need our flock

When you have trouble asking for help, you’re like the Bald Ibis at the front of the V-formation that refuses to leave the lead. You’re flapping and flapping against the wind no matter how tired you get. Sadly, if a Bald Ibis did this without stopping, it would eventually become exhausted and have to leave the flock to land and rest. Or perhaps even drop out of the sky from fatigue.

We need to learn to ask for help – ask someone else to lead the V-formation for a while – lets us rest, gives us more energy, and reminds us that we really need the support system of our flock to cope well in life.

And maybe there’s a bit more there than just allowing someone else to take the lead. Maybe you should let that person create the footprints in the soft sand for us so that our way is easier.

How many times have you insisted on doing things your way, only to waste countless hours and hundreds of dollars, when you could have simply followed in the footsteps of someone who has already created the footsteps in the sand?

Keeping control is great, but not at the detriment of progress within your business. Your life.


How do I get comfortable asking for help?

Let’s be frank: You may never be completely comfortable in asking for help. It’s like working your muscles in the gym – you will get better and stronger at it the more you train…

Here are some useful steps to help.

  1. ACT

A — What are you Afraid of? Gain an awareness around what keeps you from asking for help. Is it fear of appearing vulnerable to others?

C — Let go of the need to Control everything. Asking for help does not mean giving up control when it comes to business, in fact it allows you to gain control.

T — Learn to Trust yourself enough to reach out and take a chance that you can trust someone else.

  1. Ask yourself how you feel when a friend asks you for help. Do you think of them as weak? Dependent?

I didn’t think so. If we are happy to help others, what makes us think others don’t feel the same way about helping us?

  1. Work that muscle!

Each time you work that muscle, you’ll feel stronger and more capable as you discover that you don’t have to do everything yourself.

Operating a trade business can be a lonely place. It doesn’t have to be this way!
Perhaps it’s time to say ‘I need some help!’. You will be better for it; in mind, in reducing your stress levels and in bottom line results.

Time to be more like the Bald Iris and let someone else take the lead; let us create the footprints in the soft sand.

What’s next?

  1. Join our Kick-Ass Tradies Facebook Group, for access to trade business specific conversations, tips and resources, plus a like-minded community of tradies.
  2. Book a 15-minute Game Plan Call with Andy, owner of Dr. DRiP plumbing and co-founder of Lifestyle Tradie, to clarify your priorities and get clear action steps.