By: Alisha Sedor, Founder
Ok readers, I’m going to get vulnerable with you for a minute. One, because I’ve been a fan and follower of Brené Brown for ages and believe vulnerability makes us all our more authentic selves and makes us better. But two, because being vulnerable is a big part of asking for help - letting ourselves be seen as we are so that we can be propped up, and prop up others.
I’ve always been someone who takes on a lot - I’m motivated by variety and novelty, I like learning new things, solving new problems, and experiencing the world. A symptom of that is that I typically have a lot on my plate and a schedule that’s packed to the brim.
Especially since launching Poros, I’m often asked how I do it all. How do I balance my main job, running a small business, serving on nonprofit boards, supporting multiple mentees, having a vivid social life with friends, family, and my spouse, maintaining my NYS bar membership by taking courses for CLE credits, getting to yoga few times per week, sleeping… The answer is, I don’t do it all. None of us can. There are tradeoffs I make everyday, things that I sacrifice in favor of the other. The magic behind it all, in my opinion, is that I strive to stay purposeful about how I’m spending my time, and then, most importantly, I ask for help. Or I try to.
Asking for help isn’t easy for me. I want to appear invincible and able to tackle everything on my own. I want to be my best self so that I can serve as a model for others. I want to seem strong and unflappable. I want to challenge people, and have a voice at the table, and make a difference. I want to be an advocate and a stellar employee and a stellar employer. I want to be everything to everyone all the time, because if I’m not, then maybe I’m not enough.
To maintain the facade of being everything, for a long time I felt that I had to pretend that I had it all under control and never let anyone know I could use some help. Luckily, as I’ve grown in my career (and life), I’ve recognized that I’m better when I lean on the people around me, and they lean on me too.
Because we can’t do it alone. Asking for help and drawing boundaries isn’t weakness; it helps us be more effective by executing well rather than taking on too much and either executing poorly or burning out.
So I ask for help. I ask my husband to take on the bulk of the domestic responsibility and support my work by taking the lift on tasks I don’t have capacity to take on (and he does so with grace, humor, and so much support). I ask my GChat councils of friends to keep me sane, allow me to be transparent and vulnerable, and proofread my most important emails. I ask my content contributor, Emma, to help keep this blog moving forward and to be a thought partner in my business. I ask my direct reports to take a slip of an idea of mine and execute on it with limited guidance from me, and they crush it. I ask my manager to find me additional support when I’m taking on too much at Harry’s or create space with a more flexible schedule or brainstorm a new idea with me when I’m stuck. I ask my coach to let me word-vomit what’s going on in my life to help me move forward. I ask groups of strong, intelligent, impressive women (like Ladies Get Paid and TechLadies) for resources, learning opportunities, advice, and a sense of community.
Last, I ask myself for permission to make tradeoffs. I spend money on a cleaner sometimes so that I can spend quality time with my husband, and I’m so appreciative of that service. I try to limit my weekday evenings to a maximum of 1 networking event, 1 social outing, 1 date night, 1 yoga class, and one “go right home” night to maintain balance. And my Google Calendar keeps me honest, so I suppose I’m asking Google for help too (thanks Google).
It truly takes a village, and I’m so appreciative of mine. So build your village, get vulnerable with them, ask for help, and create a space where you all lift each other up. We’re all in this together.