Last week at the gym, I felt really good. Being unemployed has its perks, and one of those perks is more time to focus on wellness. So, this lanky guy has been getting his lift on.
I was bench pressing a 25-pounder on each side, which has been my go-to for a while. I finished my first rep more easily than I had in a while, so I added another 5 on each side to see how that felt. Again, the rep was surprisingly easy. I wanted to add more weight, but was nervous. It's dangerous to lift more than you know you can without a spotter. You can drop the weights and seriously injure yourself, or tear a ligament. I've injured myself before bench pressing and my shoulder still isn't the same. Even so, I thought I could do it, and wanted to try. It would be a new record for me, a total of 115 pounds.
I looked around and there was a man lifting weights a few benches down from me. He was stocky but strong, wearing short shorts, a sleeveless shirt, and a sweatband around his head. He had earbuds in his ears. In other words, he looked like he fell out of an 80's workout video. I waited for him to finish his rep, and tried to get his attention. He couldn't hear me through his music, so I said "excuse me" louder, and he turned around, surprised, pulling the earbud out of his right ear.
"Do you mind spotting me real quick?" I asked him.
"Sure, no problem."
He stood behind the bench and encouraged me as I settled in and lifted the weight once, twice, thr....well, not quite three times. He helped me on the third. But with his help, I benched more than I ever had.
If there's one thing I've learned on this journey I'm on, it's that asking, in any form, is crucial to continuing to grow. Asking for help. Asking for guidance. Asking for forgiveness. Asking if you can be involved. The incredible thing is, people rarely say no.
In the last few months I've asked many many people to meet me for coffee to talk about the world of advertising. Almost all met with me and exceeded my ask, offering continual help with portfolio critique, more contacts, ideas, and deadline accountability. I've asked to be involved in organizations, and have been met with open arms. Through these organizations people have given me opportunities that I'm not qualified for, yet. I recently asked a local business if they would allow me to help them with their advertising and they want to meet to discuss how we can help each other.
Even the no's, most of the time, are not hard no's. They are "no, but", meaning, I can't help you with this, but I may be able to help you with that. I randomly emailed a woman through LinkedIn last week about a healthcare content writer position and she told me that I was woefully under-qualified but she would put me in touch with their temp recruiter that would be able to find me more entry-level opportunities to help build my portfolio. So much better than a hard "no"!
Ask. Ask for things people might say "no" to. You'd be surprised how often you get a "yes", or a "no, but". People want to help. And their help can only make you stronger.