On Getting Support
From Gabby's Dollhouse to Small Tokens of Appreciation
If you love Gabby’s Dollhouse as much as I do, you would know that asking for help is a superpower.
The concept of relying on someone for support as a booster for self growth was not new to me, yet I failed to do it in the past.
In this post I’d like to describe the process that works for me, and how I regularly get support from a crew of good people. I now consider this to be my superpower 🦸
Why rely on anyone?
Growth is hard, the better I got at anything, the harder it was for me to grow further. Yet, evolving my mastery and scope of influence is likely the most rewarding thing I could do with my time.
Over time, I found people around me to be essential to my growth. Such were people who told me I’m not thinking things through, people who said they think I’m doing the right thing, and people who just said that I have plenty to offer even when it didn’t feel like it.
Who should you rely on?
During much of my career I had the good fortune to have very good managers, managers who I trusted and in turn helped me grow significantly as a developer and later as a manager.
Only recently did I understand a problem with relying ONLY on my manager for growth. While it was true that my managers always showed care for me and my growth. They were on my side, but they were also on the company’s side. The overlap between my growth agenda and the company agenda is never 100% full - not even now when I am a founder in a company.
For me it makes perfect sense to rely on people outside the system to support your growth. Not only do they give me a better perspective, they also are more on my side than my manager could be.
How to be the person who relies on people?
The thought of asking someone for help is scary. I am vulnerable, I may ask stupid questions or make a bad impression. The people I rely on are strong and capable. Will they think I’m not worthy of their support and their time?
Even if they will be generous with their time. I would be putting myself in the spotlight asking someone else to focus on me. Who would like that kind of attention? Not the introverted developer that I am.
If you are anything like me, second thoughts of used to happen every time before reaching out. This caused me not to reach out many times in the past.
If it wasn’t that important I would just stay home and watch Gabby’s Dollhouse on Netflix - but it was important! So I found a way that work for me.
My way to overcome the fear was to create a system. This system is designed to have me reaching out to people every week.
To do that I took thinking out of my process. I use Asana for work and added the following tasks to my Asana.
I have 18 tasks that recur - they reopen 30 days after I close them. When they pop-up into my daily task list I send a message to the right person asking for a slot of time to have coffee / beer or just sit on a park bench. During COVID some of those happen over Zoom, which is also fine.
This makes the second thoughts less relevant, there is a task and I’m all into achieving the dopamine rush of completing a task.
Who is on my list?
My list is composed of friends and past co-workers. The people on it know they are on it and are usually happy to have a coffee every 4-6 weeks.
This somewhat resembles the concept of a personal board of directors. the idea of choosing the board people that offer a diverse set of skills and experiences. However, for me it wasn’t as intentional as the board of directors would be. I consider them a less formal support crew.
My list is diverse and long, I love talking to each of the people on it, and that is a reason it isn’t hard for me to reach out when the task appears.
It hasn’t always been long, I started with a much shorter list and grew it over time.
What should we talk about?
For me, this is the easy part, I care deeply about the people in the list and curious about what they are going through. The discussions are usually open and unstructured.
Sometimes there is a ritual - play a game of chess, grab a beer or have coffee and a sandwich in a coffee place.
Asking for help doesn’t have to be explicit, many times it isn’t. The opportunity to talk to someone does bring up the things I need help with naturally.
One more thing I find helpful is to thank the people that were generous with their time.
The last two years I created a personal token of appreciation, a real life achievement for my support crew members.
This is embarrassing to fabricate and hand out, but it is a process I force myself to do. Going through the list and writing a personal message addressed to each of the support crew members makes me appreciate what they did for me and let them know they were an important part of my journey.
I know this is something people don’t do usually - it is hard to hand out and embarrassing to receive. Nevertheless I find it healthy and meaningful.
Here is my 2021 real life achievement token which I am handing out to my crew these days.
Reach out, hop over the embarrassment in any way you can think of - it is well worth it.
If you would like to reach out to me for support, I’m always happy to chat about anything. Seemy previous post. Feel free to set time on my calendar atcalendly.com/od3d I promise to listen and to be generous and on your side 100%.