Foe forty plus years, I’ve been an entrepreneur – so I’ve been in your head – I’ve been in your skin – I’ve been in your heart.

I want you to know what I never knew. That there was a barrier I was literally carrying around inside that slowed me down, kept me from reaching the total success I could have enjoyed, kept me off balance and on over-whelm. I call it The Self-Sufficiency Syndrome.

What is it? The Syndrome happens when we take the strength of self-sufficiency - take it to an extreme - where it becomes a weakness. There we are – out on the edge of the seesaw, sitting on the ground unable to find balance and collaboration because we’ve chosen a lifestyle that says we must do it all, all by ourselves. So we get up everyday, ready for battle, armed with lifestyle instructions that would fell any giant:

•Never, never ask for help!
•Do everything all by yourself.
•Don’t delegate; after all, who can possibly do it as well as you can?
•Stay in control of everything and everybody at all times. That way, you can keep the fear down.
•Continue to help others because that’s the way you make those human connections since you can’t ask to have the favor returned.

Wow! That sounds like a prescription for isolation, separation, overwhelm, stress, fatigue, depression and total burnout. And I’m only talking about most women to this point.

How does the entrepreneurial woman differ? Escalate all these descriptors to the 10th power. Add these components:

1.We women entrepreneurs feel separate to some extent based on the choice we’ve made – to take a unique idea, create a business that benefits others and proceed – often on our own as sole proprietors – certainly until we get it up and running. So add The Self-Sufficiency Syndrome to this and we’re more isolated, feel more separate, do more by ourselves than women who are employed in an organization.
2.Many of us run these endeavors from a home office where geography cuts us off from others. So the natural tendency is to get it done quickly and since there’s no one else around, we’re elected. It becomes a habit if we didn’t already feel that asking is a weakness.
3.Our pride dictates that our “baby” remain “ours”; to share would take away the credit for our brainchild.
4.Because we’re isolated, the more we can learn to do, all by ourselves, the more it will underwrite our entrepreneurial spirit.
5.While we may reach out for help for web design, shopping carts, accounting support etc., we don’t feel that’s truly asking for help because we’re paying for the service. We’re not opening ourselves to rejection or looking vulnerable.

Maybe you grew up with parents who taught you that asking for help was a weakness. Then you went into the business world in a culture that supported that individualism. That may be one of the contributing factors that motivated you to choose an entrepreneurial track. How better to be an individualist in an individualistic society than to design your own business that you can operate yourself, controlling your own destiny in every way. It’s courageous, risk-filled, daunting and challenging. It’s the very best of the best if you remove the barrier that you’re carrying around and become free to become all you can be. Here’s how:

 Change your belief system that says asking for help is a weakness. How would you act if you believed that asking is a strength? I can see all the Information Interviews you could do around issues you’re grappling with, if you believed calling an expert in that field and asking for thirty minutes of their time – would escalate your learning curve.

 How about setting up a consortium of other women entrepreneurs that could brainstorm overcoming common problems. That’s not diffusing your power. It’s realistically expanding it through collaboration. You are indeed unique and your idea will never ever be delivered by anyone else in the same way no matter how many people you consult – even competitors.

 How much creativity would be generated if you opened yourself to asking for help in areas where you aren’t as strong.

 What would the spirit of collaboration do for your morale? Would you feel less fearful knowing that support is just a request away? Would it be a strong payoff for the “pride factor price tag” of doing everything yourself?

 What would being supported by other women entrepreneurs do for your feelings of not belonging?

 Can you give up the control of doing it all, all by yourself to feeling in charge? When you decide what you can control and what you can’t and ask for help in those areas, for the first time, you’ll be IN CHARGE.

I love a new year. It’s always given me a clean page to decide what I’ll change and what I’ll leave in place. My sincere wish for you is that you’ll look at this barrier of “not being able to ask for help”, understand where it came from, see where it’s hindering you, and make a decision to create a new pattern of behavior that will enrich your life, create the true success you’ve been yearning for in this new year. My best to you for 2008.

Peggy Collins

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Author's Bio: 

Peggy Collins is a professional speaker, trainer and author. Her new book, Help is Not a Four Letter Word; Why Doing It All is Doing You In published by McGraw Hill has become her life mission: changing the culture one person at a time that says asking for help is a weakness – to asking for help is a strength.

Peggy’s highly successful sales career spans some 40 years as she continues to sell – every day of her life. She gives audiences the tips and tools she learned where they can “hit the ground running”!

•As a senior vice president of a Dallas, Texas bank holding company, she and her staff marketed a relocation product in 34 cities across the US and managed an incentive program that resulted in 167 million dollars.

•As president of a Dallas relocation company she was responsible for the coordination of mass moves and thousands of individuals into the Metroplex including those from SOHIO, Ericsson, Arthur Andersen, Mervyns, and many others.

In 1987, Peggy left corporate life to set up her own speaking and training business where she is spreading the word about how to be successful utilizing the same skills that made her career successful!

Peggy has spoken to thousands in such audiences as: The Federally Employed Women’s Association, JC Penney, Ericsson, Price Waterhouse Coopers, The US Army Corps of Engineers, Texas Society of CPA’s, Association of Community Action Agencies, Meeting Professionals International, International Association of Conference Center Managers, The Dallas Chamber of Commerce, Spirit of Women, Northlake College, and many, many others.

Since 2004, Peggy has been a resident of Hendersonville, NC. She’s a proud mother and grandmother. She’s also a thirteen-year member of the National Speakers Association and served on the Dallas North Texas Speakers Association Board for six years. Peggy has been designated by MPI (Meeting Professionals International) as a Platinum Speaker.
She’s a member of The Spirit of Women Hospital Organization’s speakers bureau as well and has recently been elected to the Whitehouse Project.

To Contact: Peggy Collins