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Ask For Directions: More Results and Less Bust-Ups

For all my talents I have to admit a few weaknesses – taking travel directions and following travel directions. Most women would comfort me by pointing out that this is a gender problem rather than an individual problem. Women may also point out that I should have an additional weakness – the inability to ask for help with directions when travelling. Many wives/girlfriends have experienced a journey (or more than likely plural) passing the same land mark numerous times. “I know where it is – just around the corner!!” I have never had a problem asking for directions. I don’t know why I buck the trend but I think a lack of patience and lack of interest in scenery play a big part.

My ability to ask for directions when travelling has helped me in life and business as I don’t have hang-ups about asking for directions here either. I don’t know everything but I do know that I am always one or two questions away from knowing it. Asking for direction is important in job hunting and business but ignored by too many professionals and business owners. Why would you waste time and energy going around in circles when a few questions can deliver results quicker? Our four lettered friend FEAR stems the flow of requests for help. Although I feel I am good at asking I still have to face down and overcome fear.

Fear of looking stupid – I guess we all carry this baggage. I always start by looking within my immediate network as it is less daunting to ask people I already know. When moving into the unknown I remember the Chinese proverb – “He who asks a question is a fool for five minutes; he who does not ask a question remains a fool forever”.

Fear of rejection – I tell myself that if I get a “No” it brings me one step closer to “Yes”. I remind myself of previous experiences – people are very helpful, people love talking about what they do and people love talking about their successes. Yes I have met the odd Victor Meldrew who won’t help BUT SWSWSW (Some Will, Some Won’t, So What). Research by Journal of Personality & Social Psychology indicates that we grossly underestimate just how willing others are to help.

Fear of showing weakness/vulnerability – I fear that asking for help shows weakness or admittance to lacking in my own ability. I have to remind myself that not even I know everything :-).

Fear of being indebted to others – I don’t like owing people or feeling like I owe a debt. To overcome this I pay for advice, offer my skills/expertise in return or offer a simple lunch or breakfast.

So start asking your way to success today. Whether you are job hunting or in business this strategy can pay great dividends and help provide a roadmap to achieving goals. Remember the saying – “To know the road ahead, ask those coming back”.

Love to hear your thoughts and views about the post ……

Paul Mullan is an experienced career and outplacement professional with 14 years experience working within careers, outplacement and recruitment in the UK & Ireland. He is a former owner of Eden Recruitment and founder of career firm Measurability in 2006. Paul has delivered outplacement programmes for many leading organisations and ran graduate career workshops for leading third level institutions. He has worked with many individuals helping them define and achieve career goals through creative approaches to personal marketing and job hunting. Paul integrates traditional strategies with new Web 2.0 strategies to deliver optimum results. He is known for his up to date, creative and friendly approach to delivering career solutions. Paul is a recognised career professional regularly commenting on career related topics in the national media. He has acted as Career Doctor with Irish Independent and he is currently an online career expert with RecruitIreland.

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  • Anonymous

    Forgot my message at the bottom of the post!!

    For ongoing access to career support and advice — Follow me on Twitter @paulmullan74 or Join Measurability Careers & Jobs Club

    Thanks P

  • Hi Paul. I would agree with you. Hang-ups about asking for help only hinder someone in their business, or indeed their personal, life. I personally have never worried about asking for assistance. People generally feel good about being able to help and you benefit as well.

  • Hi Paul, I do some work with people on presentation skills, as I am sure you are aware fear of public speaking is the number one fear for many people. I think that this comes directly from “Fear of looking stupid” One thing I have found that works well (in a classroom type environment) is to actually get people to do silly things or look stupid in front of others. You would be surprised the impact that this has on the fear and ultimately how it allows the person to become more comfortable when giving presentations/talks etc. Great post! thanks for sharing, Niall

  • What a great post Paul, I love the cartoon…. time to time in life the direction we need to take might not be very clear, sometimes asking for help and the ability to receive and listen to information can make a huge difference in getting on the right path……

  • Anonymous

    @Barney – thanks for the comments.

    @Niall – the power of social media – DM’ed you earlier – sent over a possible lead and reading your message earlier had you on then mind.

    @Catherine – Catherine very true. Asking questions provides direction in our lives but also provides knowledge for daily tasks in business or job hunting – thanks for the comments

    Have a happy April Fools Day everyone ….


  • World’s No 3 Fear = Fear of dying
    World’s No 2 Fear = Fear of speaking in public
    World’s No 1 Fear = Fear of dying while speaking in public


  • Great post Paul, thanks for sharing with us.
    I do struggle at time with the importance people put on “going it alone” or not asking for help – how hard can it be??? Well, if it was easy, most of us commenting here would be doing something with ourselves 🙂
    I would add Fear of Failure – if we do ask for advice, see it through and it doesn’t work out – WHAT THEN?? end of the world of course.

    Your title says it all really – well done!
    Can I have a job so?

  • Anonymous


    Fear of failure and even fear of success are two other things that stop people. Those who fear failure should definitely ask people who have been successful.

    Love your 3 biggest fears up above – thank goodness I didn’t read no 1 before my presentation last week 🙂

    Ok you have a job and start Monday – I know it’s a bank holiday but I am a hard task master 🙂

    Have a great weekend

  • As my wise old grandfather used to say …. if you never ask you will never find out !

  • carmelanne

    Hi Paul, I enjoyed this very well put together piece, especially as the rain belts off my window panes!

  • Anonymous

    @John – thanks for the comments. Yes he certainly was a very wise man – you don’t get if you don’t ask. We could add to this that sometimes it takes asking many times before we get a yes. I can think of how many attempts it took before my mother let me go to teenage discos and I can also think of how many times it took before my vice principle let me train/play for u12’s gaa club team when I was only 9.

    @Carmel – thanks for the nice comments and glad you liked the post. Perhaps you could ask the man above to make the rain stop – As John’s Grandad would say “if you don’t ask you don’t get” :-).

    Have a great weekend all


  • Werner Reisacher

    As the saying goes; “{If Moses would have been a women, she would have asked for directions and found the homeland in 6 months”)

  • Anonymous


    Thanks for the comments and your saying is probably true. Having said this it is dangerous to generalise – If my wife was Moses then Moses would have spent the last 40 years at Dundrum Shopping Centre but would have informed me it was the Desert. By the way my wife would not need any directions 🙂


  • oops – just to clarify above comment:
    if it was easy, most of us commenting here would be doing something with ourselves 🙂
    I meant:
    if it was easy, most of us commenting here would be doing something different with ourselves 🙂
    (as in a different job)

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