You’ve Got To Be Self Confident To Ask For Help

Today is Monday, so this post is on self confidence.

Last Wednesday the Wall Street Journal ran a small article called “Apprenticeship 101.”  Diane Prucino, the co-managing partner at the Kilpatrick Stockton law firm in Atlanta offered suggestions on what young lawyers should do to succeed as an associate in a large law firm.

One of the suggestions that Ms. Prucino offered was, “Find and use a good mentor.”  This is good advice, not just for young law firm associates, but for anyone interested in becoming a career and life success.  There are three things critical to developing your self confidence: 1) be optimistic; 2) face your fears and take action; and 3) surround yourself with positive people.  Mentors, by definition, are positive people.  They are positive people because they are willing to give of themselves to help others grow and succeed.

Mentors can help you accelerate your learning.  If you pay attention to what they have to say, you will find that you can take advantage of the lessons they’ve learned the hard way – through experience – without having to have the actual experiences yourself.  Experience is a great, but painful, teacher.  Working with a mentor provides you with the opportunity to take advantage of his or her experiences, and the pain that came along with those experiences, without having to experiencing the pain for yourself.

Working with a mentor is a good deal – learning with little or no pain.  Self confident successful people work hard to find and learn from mentors.  Several months ago, Shane of the Shane and Peter blog wrote a great post entitled “How To Work With A Mentor.”  I particularly liked a question he suggests for working with a mentor: “What do you know about my business that I don’t which would make the greatest difference?”

I like this question because it takes a self confident person to ask it.  When you ask someone “What do you know that I don’t,” you are admitting that you don’t know everything, and that you need help.  You have to be self confident to do that.  People who lack self confidence often are unwilling to ask for help because doing so puts them in a vulnerable position. 

People lacking in self confidence don’t like to feel vulnerable.  Self confident people, on the other hand, realize that it’s OK – better than OK really to put themselves in a vulnerable position by asking for help.  They realize that admitting what you don’t know and asking for help are the best ways to learn what they need in order to success.

The common sense point here is simple.  Self confident people find mentors to help them learn and grow.  They are willing to put themselves in a vulnerable position and admit what they don’t know in order to take full advantage of what their mentors can offer them.

By the way, Ms. Prucino offered some other solid common sense advice for law firm associates. 
“Repeat verbal assignments to make sure you understood them.  Follow up with a confirming e mail.”  This is great advice for enhancing communication – one of the five keys to success that I present in “Straight Talk for Success.”

“Develop a niche in your practice.  Find some area of the practice that no one else does and that you see a need for, either now or down the road.”  This sounds a lot like creating a personal brand.  A strong personal brand is one of the keys to creating positive personal impact.  Positive personal impact is another of the five keys to success in “Straight Talk for Success.” 

It’s nice to know that my advice on career and life applies even to lawyers.

That’s it for today.  Thanks for reading.  Log on to my website for more common sense and to subscribe to my weekly newsletter “Common Sense.” 

I’ll see you around the web and at Alex’s Lemonade Stand.


PS: Speaking of Alex’s Lemonade Stand, my fundraising page is still open.  Please go to to read Alex’s inspiring story and to donate if you can.

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