I ran into Barbara Sher’s work when I realized, midway through a Ph.D., that I wasn’t going to become a History Professor when I grew up. Rudderless and unsure what to do next, I found her book I Could Do Anything, If I Only Knew What It Was (affiliate link).
That title pretty much summed up my attitude at the time.
In this TedTalk, she tells hilarious stories about how groups of strangers help each other do extraordinary things.
There are two parts to how this works:
- A clear wish (ie – knowing your goal)
- Being open about the obstacles.
“People like to solve problems,” Sher states at one point in this TedTalk. The trick is to give their brains something to chew on.
In my rudderless state, I somehow figured out that I wanted to find a job that paid enough to allow me to make a living. I was then wise (and desperate) enough to ask for help – does anyone need an unemployed historian who can turn on a computer and use Microsoft Word?
This led my high school friend Arielle (thank you) to reach out and, ultimately, led to my first adult job as a Configuration Manager for a defense contractor. That first adult job led to a lengthy career in IT.
In my experience, this is the power of networks, masterminds and support groups.
You don’t necessarily need to be “close.” Actually, strangers may help more. They don’t have skin in the game and will be more likely to give you creative solutions and honest feedback. You are also more likely to share what you need and ask for help.
It’s the ability to leverage the “six degrees of separation.”
Someone in that group knows something or someone that can help you get what you want.
You just need to be clear about what you want and where you need help.