I want to talk to you about the power of trusting your gut. Not only that, but asking for help when you need it – asking again, and again, and again until you find the support you require.
So many of us are a little – okay, a lot! – backwards at coming forwards when we need help with something.
Some might call it bravado, pride, others might be more honest and admit they’re too afraid, or embarrassed, to accept they could use some support. Whatever the reason, we need to get way better at it.
You know how much I like analogies by now, right? So I’m going to tell you a story to illustrate the point. By the end, you’ll be able to apply to lessons to life, business, pretty much everything!
If you’re a regular reader of my weekly column at America Out Loud, you’ll remember me talking about my injured foot. If you missed it, here’s the link.
To recap, I’d been experiencing pain for weeks before calling my GP – I’d been resting my foot as much as I could and the discomfort wasn’t going away, so I figured I needed a medical opinion.
Of course, in this COVID world, the best I could get was a telephone consult, and the doctor diagnosed plantar fasciitis.
Now, I’m no medic, but I’ve known enough people with PF to know my symptoms didn’t really fit. Still, I followed advice, made sure I had supportive soles in my shoes and took pain medication.
It wasn’t helping. My gut was telling me the diagnosis was wrong. I needed to keep asking for help.
I went to see my osteopath, who knows me and sorts out my back for me fairly regularly.
Surprise, surprise – he checked out my foot and ruled out plantar fasciitis.
I was about to take a trip to Greece, so he advised me to rest it as much as possible and, on my return to the UK, go to the nearest hospital and ask for an X-ray – it might be a stress fracture.
The trip came and went. The pain stayed.
I followed all the advice and visited my local urgent care unit, where – thanks to Covid again – I spoke to someone through an intercom, then waited for hours, outside in the forecourt, until an available time slot came up.
In I went. This was it! Someone would listen, examine me, and tell me what to do to heal.
A nurse examined me, but they refused to do an X-ray or scan.
Why? Because they insisted I would have been “going through the wall” when they examined my foot if I’d had a fracture.
But I have a high pain threshold… hell, I went back to work on a broken back!
Nope. Definitely no fracture. It’ll be a soft tissue injury. Elevate it. Take pain relief. Make sure you keep that foot moving as normally as possible.
By now, I was wondering if I was going mad. Was lockdown getting to me? Was I so desperate for human interaction that I was creating a bout of hypochondria for some simple attention?
I began to doubt myself. The pain sure *felt* real, but what if I was imagining it? I mean, we were eleven or so weeks into it now… surely a sprain or strain should be getting better?!
And then, I’d look at my feet, compare one to the other, see how misshapen the painful one was and wonder, yet again, what on Earth was going on.
I might be able to imagine pain, but I couldn’t deceive myself into ‘pretending’ one little toe was turning in at a 45 degree angle, or ignoring the swollen, squishy flesh cradling the ball of my foot!
Desperate, I spoke to my personal trainer about it, who put me in touch with a sports injury specialist.
I had an appointment within a week and, within half an hour of seeing me, he’d scanned my foot and found the problem – I’d been walking around with an avulsion fracture for almost three months!
If you want the gory details, an avulsion fracture is when the tendons/ligaments snap away and take some of the bone with them. He estimated up to 50% of the ligaments had detached from the bone at the base of my little toe joint.
Hurrah! At least now I knew I wasn’t going crazy! Now we could treat the injury and start to get better.
I paid for my appointment and left with a really fetching boot to wear, and follow up appointments for laser treatment, to speed up the healing process.
Apparently, with this kind of injury, the worst thing we can do is keep moving our foot as we would normally!
So why am I telling you this?
First, let me make it clear that this is NOT about bashing the UK’s National Health Service. I’m a massive advocate of the NHS, whose teams work tirelessly to save countless lives every day!
Every profession has the odd cockwomble – I was just lucky to come up against a couple in quick succession.
To be fair, they may not be cockwombles under normal circumstances… I’m guessing the stress and pressure put upon our medics during the current climate is enough to push the most dedicated of professionals into snap decisions. I wasn’t dying. They had bigger fish to fry, I’m sure.
No, the real lessons here are about trusting our gut and being brave enough to keep asking for help when we need support.
How many of us give up at the first hurdle? Whether it’s a problem in our personal lives, a business challenge, something to do with our mindset, our relationships, anything at all, how many of us would keep on exploring if we felt let down on our first attempt at seeking support?
More than that… how many of us ask for help in the first place?
Don’t we put on a brave face for far too long, all too often? When something’s amiss, somewhere, deep inside, we *know* – and that instinct rarely steers us wrong. We need to be be brave enough to ask for help and, if it doesn’t come right away, or if we’re steered in the wrong direction, keep trusting that instinct and try something else.
Life is too short for us to sit in pain and discomfort needlessly – whatever the challenge we’re facing. Those challenges often come to bring us great life lessons, but we cannot always overcome them alone.
Ask for help. Sometimes that *is* the teaching. And if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again! It might take multiple attempts. It might take thinking outside of the box.
It might take drive, determination and a big heap of self-belief, but you’ll get there in the end if you just keep going.
Until next time,