Fear, Shame and Asking for Help

Franklin D. RooseveltMarty’s Favorite Link

When @Kontentapp’s founder Ed Rhys asked me to share my favorite link I was a bit overwhelmed. I share several hundred links a day across this blog and six social networks, so there was a lot to choose from. Then I thought of our co-founder Phil Buckley’s post about having the courage to ask for help and my favorite link was easy to select.

See My Favorite link (this post by Phil) and use the form on the bottom to let Ed know you would like to contribute yours. Think of how cool this will be when we have several hundred marketers and curators sharing their favorite single link on the web.

See Marty’s Favorite Link & Share Yours

Fear, Shame, Asking for Help
Imagine if you could get control of the part of your brain that throws the switch on fear.

Let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is…fear itself
– Franklin D. Roosevelt

What are you afraid of?

Imagine the freedom you could get over your life, in every aspect. You could stop worrying that you’re going to get fired. You could stop worrying that your spouse doesn’t find you attractive anymore. You could stop worrying that you’re business is going to fail and all your friends and family will consider you a failure.


Most of the time, our fears have grown out of something that we are ashamed of. You put on an act for people so they think you’re better at your job than you feel you actually are, so you become terrified that someone will find out.

Since you need to keep up that facade, you end up being dismissive of new ideas and try to grab for any small scraps of glory that roll by.

Asking for Help

One of the most difficult barriers to get past is asking for help. When you ask for help, you are telling someone you can’t do it yourself. Asking for help is something we all struggle with.

The upside of asking for help is the good feeling you are giving to the person you’re asking. Even small asks can have a powerful effect. When the old man in the grocery store asks you to reach something on the top shelf for him – it makes you feel good to help him. When a co-worker asks you to look over a proposal – you know they trust your judgment. When the boss turns towards you and asks your opinion – you have an opportunity to really shine.

So why do we hate asking for help?

Asking for Help at Scale

When Martin and I started laying the plans for a new tool/service/app that would help businesses harvest the most interesting discussion happening around their niche, we knew we would need a lot of help.

Luckily for me, Martin is an expert at asking for help. Asking for help becomes easier every time you do it, and Martin has just spent the last year asking cancer centers all over the country for help with his Cure Cancer Starter non-profit.

We started asking businesses that we knew needed our help to partner with us to test out this new idea. It was actually a terrible pitch when you boil it down – “we have an idea, it won’t be available for 3 months, want to be a beta partner?” Because Martin and I have some credibility with these ideas and certainly with those business owners, ever single one of them agreed right away. The energy that came our way was overwhelming.

Next we had to ask for help curating the best content on the web for the new beta partners. More asking and feedback, and more energy flowed into our startup.

roller coaster

Life in a start-up

The last few months have been exciting, depressing, exciting and boring. It’s also been scary. Telling your family that you’re going to ditch “normal” life and work long days (and nights) at unproven company that has no paying customers can create some fear.

Move Forward

There’s a scene from Mad Men in season 2 when Peggy has just had an illegitimate child and is in the hospital conflicted and fearful of what lies ahead for her. Don Draper comes to visit and gives her straight-forward advice about what to do.

Move forward” is great advice for anyone who is at a point in their life where they are fearful. Sitting still is never an answer.

Curagami is moving forward. Come join us and come curate for us, we’re hiring.

Share Your Favorite COURAGE Picture

Loved Phil’s post and thought we should ask for our community to share their favorite COURAGE pictures. Here are two of my favorites (my sister Caroline climbing a monster mountain in Colorado and me riding to chemo after Martin’s ride and yes I am SICK then but doing much better now thanks to great docs, friends and family :).

Email your pictures to martin(at)curagami.com or post them to Curagami’s Facebook page. Soldier pics are from John E. Michel we follow each other on Twitter.

Caroline Smith Courage Picture Martin Courage PictureSoldiers from John E Michel

Highest Point of Martin's Ride To Cure Cancer

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8 Responses

  1. mnp2192 says:

    I like the idea of being able to ask for help. I am not very practiced at asking for help. Thank you for reminding me that it is not a weakness to ask but rather a strength.

    • MNP2192,
      NO ONE likes to ask for help. When I heard “cancer” and my name in the same sentence I sensed life as I knew it was OVER. My future life depended on HELP from an army of people. This “being forced to ask for help” helped me get over the idea of “weakness” you describe and I knew so well.

      Interestingly when I really was WEAK due to chemo and the Big C doing its level best to KILL ME asking for help was ALWAYS a source of strength. No one has EVER said NO and most people I’ve ever asked for help have amazed me with their generosity of spirit, desire to help, kindness and willingness to help. We have people now OFFERING to help CrowdFunde achieve its goals. Last night a former VC offered to help write our “creation story”.

      I can’t tell you how LESS ALONE I feel now having stressed over writing and creating this critical content for weeks. Mark wrote us a note and explained that he understood what it was like to get a helping hand and asked if he could help us. LOL, answer to that question is always YES and what a MENSCH for offering! We are NEVER as alone as we think and asking for help is what creates relationships you didn’t know you have. In my case asking for help SAVED MY LIFE and helped me become STRONGER not weaker as a result.

      I started where you are now and due to having to fight a massive dragon asked for help. As Phil explained, now I don’t wait for fire breathing dragons to be present before asking for help :). Glad you enjoyed Phil’s post and hope you will share your favorite courage picture with us. Marty

  2. markjohn1 says:

    Phil and Martin,

    I am in that position again of asking for help. Also though I am in the position to help others asking for help in hopes the favor may be returned.

    Asking for help or support is one of the most difficult things to do in life, but in the end it’s needed usually and the asking justifies the results.

    Whether is has been for an illness in the family or my own issues I learned to ask and give the help needed. It wasn’t east trust me, the asking but by giving it seemed to break the barrier of asking. I don’t know why, but it did work for me.

    My learning to ask helped me to write a book, start and run numerous non-profits and for profit companies. It helped me get through hard times when illness struck my family or myself. It was helpful when I questioned myself and others about a new venture I wanted to start now at the age of 60.

    Whoever said being a senior citizen was boring. Chaos is all about love at this age.

    Ask and give. It works!

  3. Martin Smith says:

    Great note Mark. I really LOVE this paragraph, “Whether is has been for an illness in the family or my own issues I learned to ask and give the help needed. It wasn’t easy trust me, the asking but by giving it seemed to break the barrier of asking. I don’t know why, but it did work for me.” By giving you broke the ASK barrier and that is well said and true to my experience too.

    When I was having my first round of chemo I read Things That Scare Us by Buddhist monk Pema Chodron. Chodron teaches to GO EASY on yourself because how you are to yourself is how you are to the world. That was a key lesson When tie is short being more in the moment and kind felt better than worrying about bad things that could happen. I also forgave myself for not achieving this or that. It was easy to do since those things that seemed so important once didn’t seem nearly that important post cancer. Post cancer LOVE of friends, family and things I like to do were more important. Hard to get me to pay a bill now since I HATE doing so (do but am always late and don’t really care if they don’t like that lol)

    Great note and glad you are with us :). Marty

  4. I love what you wrote. It was only a couple of years ago that I realized that it is not embarrassing not to know something. It is only embarrassing not to be able to admit what it is that I do not know and ask for help from those who do.

    • Martin Smith says:

      Betsy, agree and in these times NO ONE can know enough. What we do for a living changes so fast, includes so many sub-specialties now (email marketing, video marketing, converison, social media, content marketing, SEO, PPC, etc…) that asking for help is a MUST. I’m very lucky to have friends like Phil and Mark (Mark Traphagen) who are generous, brilliant and easy to ask for help because they never say NO :). BTW, no one ever does, because we innately want to help each other. Learned that lesson the HARD way :). Marty

  1. December 3, 2014

    […] for help. Phil wrote a great piece about how poor most people are at asking for help titled “Fear, Shame and Asking for Help.” His post is among my favorites because it reminds me of how far I’ve […]

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