A half-finished set of curtains hung over the window at my parent's house for over 10 years. I started them when we moved there. I was 16 years old - a determined yet not always successful DIYer who was terrible at asking for help.
I love to do things myself. I’ve had an independent streak since I was a toddler. My DIY attitude sometimes drives my husband crazy. He wasn’t a fan of the paint samples that were smeared on our kitchen cabinet for six years.
When we remodeled the kitchen I was planning to paint the cabinets myself. So I got paint samples with my friend and put them up. They proved useful in helping me decide neither brown nor red was the right color for the job. But I procrastinated doing the work so the samples were an eyesore we talked about at least four times a year.
With the help of my husband, I realized there’s no All in Doing It Yourself. Just because I like to DIY doesn’t mean I have to do it ALL by myself.
So I did some trade with an up-and-coming entrepreneur and builder. He painted our cabinets, I provided creative direction - aka picked the color. And our cabinets looked fabulous, much better than if I had painted them myself.
I recently interviewed Josh LaMar for Co-Creators in Conversation. Josh is the Co-Founder and CEO of Amplinate. During our conversation, he shared, "one of the biggest challenges that I faced is actually overcoming my own mindset, that I had to be good at everything."
It seems many of us have a lone soldier persona we feel be-wedded to.
Whether it’s doing it all yourself or you have to be good at everything. The underlying message is - you’re all alone.
News flash - that’s a lie!
I mean, you might feel all alone - I’ve definitely been there myself. But you can choose to not do it all yourself. You can make the effort to connect with people. Find others who share your values and compliment your strengths. You can ask for help!
Of course, this all sounds simple enough in theory, yet it's easy to get stuck in old patterns of DIAY (Do It All Yourself). Such knee-jerk reactions become so deeply ingrained they are like reflexes. We kick into DIAY behaviors without even thinking about it.
A problem or an opportunity comes across our desks and we jump at the chance to prove ourselves. As though we were just given THE test of our lifetime. We follow a script established by our education system that connects our sense of self-worth with "having the right answers." A story that reinforces the limiting belief, asking for help is a sign of weakness.
Somehow that storyline was morphed into this unrealistic need to be good at everything. The individualistic pursuit of life, liberty and happiness reinforces the lone soldier persona. We live with this false impression that our success in life is isolated; due to our personal efforts alone.
But nothing could be further from the truth. Sure, we have agency and are given countless opportunities to make choices that affect the quality of our lives. And we rely on the support and help of others in order to thrive (not to mention the role privilege plays). There's no sustainable way of succeeding in isolation from others.
We rise and fall together like the tide of the ocean.
The sooner we can recognize our limiting beliefs (and the stories we tell ourselves that reinforce them) the better off we will be individually and collectively. And when such a shift in mindset changes our behaviors we create a host of new possibilities. When we show up with the awareness and humility to say, "I don't know" followed by "I need help" our impact grows exponentially.
Home improvement projects are a great metaphor for leaders and entrepreneurs who are challenging the status quo. Driving such an effort means we are inherently in the thick of it, we are apt to DIY. But we don't need to DIAY. The sooner we realize that, the better.
I'd love to hear from you - what exciting new professional projects are you DIYing?