Radical Honesty and Asking for Help
It’s not a new year’s resolution. It’s a lifetime resolution.
I, Steph Silver, resolve to practice radical honesty with myself and others and to ask for help.
I am generally a very honest and open person (I literally wrote and published my life story) so this may not sound like a big deal but it is. I don’t keep a lot of secrets. I tend to put everything all out on the table most of the time but these past few years have been a doozy and not everything went down as planned…in fact, most of it didn’t.
What I have learned is that the more I hold inside and the less I ask for help, the worse things get. This is true in my personal life as well as my business and I find it to be true for most of my clients.
I know that I do not want to do everything on my own. In fact, I now know that I can’t.
Asking for help
Let’s dig a little deeper into this concept of asking for help. Successful entrepreneurs are always talking about hiring and surrounding themselves with people who can fill their gaps. This is one of the first things that will take a startup from a struggling small business to a growing success and most business owners know this and exercise it to some extent. What happens, however, when they fall short on a strength, when things are going awry in their personal lives, or when they are not quite meeting their own expectations? Most of the time they hide in a spiral of anxiety and shame.
Asking for help is incredibly difficult for me. If you’ve read my memoire, Anywhere, USA, you know that I learned at an early age that I need to be able to take care of myself and it was a very effective strategy…until it wasn’t. I burned myself out and then blew up my life. Whether my life needed to be blown up or not is debatable, but I’d rather not do that again!
People have definitely shown up for me – a lot of them have – but I generally don’t ask so when I really need help, I suffer silently. This terrible habit has certainly been the most consistent trait that has held me back from greater success. In his article, How old traumas plateau entrepreneurial growth, Travis Luther explains that “Entrepreneurial success is often associated with resilience, determination, and creativity – qualities that many trauma survivors develop as a result of their experiences.” Luther goes on to discuss the longer term implications of untreated trauma, stating that “while childhood trauma can provide a foundation for early entrepreneurial success, old traumas can lead to a plateau in that success.”
Like my business coach, Bill Small, tells me “your drive and way of being in your early adulthood served you well and got you to where you are but it won’t get you where you’re wanting to go now.”
In order to ask for help, however, I have to be willing to be honest with myself about what I need and share those needs with someone I trust.
You don’t have to be a dirty, rotten liar to not be a truly honest person. Most people lie all the time. It’s true. Most people lie to themselves and their loved ones on a daily basis.
I first heard of the concept of radical honesty on a podcast so long ago that I can’t recall what it was. The idea scared me at the time because I thought I was too nice to tell someone they don’t look fat when they really do. It was a concept that I didn’t quite understand at the time but obviously stuck with me, and after I gave it some thought I looked it up to discover a bestselling book by Dr. Brad Blanton. Dr. Blanton states that “radical honesty is not to be confused with a moral obligation to tell the truth. It is a way to liberate yourself from being at the mercy of your untrustworthy reactive mind and to get to a place where you forgive other people and yourself at the same time.”
This is exactly what I’m trying to achieve.
Living a life of Radical Honesty is more than not telling life-changing lies. It means never saying things are “fine” or business is great when it’s not. It also means looking deeply when I tell myself “I’m not good enough” and asking myself if it is true, or if I’m making it up to feed a past trauma or skirt a bigger challenge. It’s stopping myself when I make excuses like there’s not enough time.
Radical honesty makes you stop when you’re about to fire an employee or break up with a partner to ensure that there wasn’t something you could have done or said to make it work. Better yet, it makes you look at the stories you’ve been telling yourself to see if they are actually true. It asks us to let go of cultural beliefs and check in with our heart then speak our truth.
Radical Honesty is more challenging than any other resolution I know.
Unlike most New Year’s resolutions, radical honesty is not a short term, check the box off goal that covers one area of your life. It’s an all encompassing concept that affects your way of being in every area of your life. Diet, exercise, mindfulness, work, sex, relationships, all of it. This doesn’t mean you have to turn into Super Man and Mother Theresa at the same time. In fact, radical honesty just requires you to be honest about your choices. For example, if I want abs of steel am I lying to myself about the diet and exercise routine that I need? (just an example, hahaha)
The first step is getting real with thoughts and communication. The second step is actively and creatively forming a life of design…I’m excited to share my radically honest life journey with you as it unfolds.