The Most Courageous Act You Can Do For Yourself

Posted by: Sonya Highfield

The most courageous act you can do for yourself is ask for help. It seems so simple, yet for many people it’s the biggest obstacle standing in the way of moving their life and career forward. Just ask for help!

So why is it so hard??

We’re taught as kids to try something first on our own- tying shoes or figuring out the math problem- before we ask for help. Or we ask for help then are told to try again, make sure you REALLY try, and then you can ask again. And we get used to this pattern. We must try so, so hard, we must prove we can’t do it, or fail before asking for help. Maybe it wasn’t that extreme when we were just doing simple addition, but now we’re adults and we’re convinced not only must we be doing everything on our own, but once we finally admit we need help it feels like we’ve somehow failed. Like we weren’t smart enough. Like we didn’t try hard enough. We couldn’t do it alone- and now we’re desperate to quietly seek the support we knew we needed all along.

When I was 23 I went into my freelance photography business full time. I had NO idea how to run a business. I didn’t know anyone my age doing the same thing, and I looked at other photographers and assumed they just KNEW how to do all this business stuff. They had been taught something I hadn’t been. They must instinctively be great at marketing and getting amazing clients. And so I set out to learn how to run a creative business all on my own. I didn’t ask for help, I didn’t even know where to go for help. I spent a lot of hours doing research instead of just asking someone what the heck I should be doing.

After 6 years of creating a successful photography business, I now coach emerging artists and creative entrepreneurs, and I host a free Facebook group where I connect with people every day. And I get messages every week saying things like, “I’m so sorry this is probably a stupid question but how do I price my work?” or “I know I need help but I am going to try on my own first.” or “I really want to be full time doing what I love but I just don’t have enough clients/time/money.” No one has all the answers when they’re first starting out, or even when they’ve been in business for years! There’s no need to feel ashamed that you haven’t received the magical and non-existent handbook for being a creative business owner. And- everyone has the same questions, I swear!

If there’s one take away from this let it be- don’t wait to get help. Get it as soon as you start something. As soon as you feel the wave of indecision, confusion, or the shrinking of your self confidence. Find the people who are doing what you want to do and reach out. Find a community who can support you, and a trusted business confidant, coach or mentor (or all of the above!) who can guide you, educate you and remind you you’re not supposed to do this all on your own.


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