Photo: collaboration helpsI used to think heroes are able to fix any problem instantly and without outside help. I couldn’t (shock, I discovered I’m actually human). Which left me feeling pretty shitty about myself. But as I did some research I discovered there’s very few heroes that instantly know how to solve any obstacles that come their way. Turns out you can be human and a hero at the same time. And so over the years I’ve developed a number of heroic coping mechanisms for those annoying times where I find myself stuck. Here’s five I’d like to share with you:

Ask for help or advice

Everything I know now I had to learn at some point. And everything I don’t know now is something I can probably learn from someone who’s ahead of me. After hours of stubbornly pulling my own hair because my facebook ads cost me more money than they make me and my boyfriend and I have gotten into yet another fight over nothing, I usually turn to someone else for words of wisdom. “Hey, could you help me with XXX?”

In fact, the other day I spoke to a manager who said:

I determine the level of seniority of my employees by their ability to ask for help with a problem. Rookies try to do everything themselves, experienced professionals aren’t afraid to ask for assistance.

Stubborn it’s okay to be. Let it get in the way of your own success you shouldn’t.

Team up

Frodo needed a bunch of people and other creatures to throw the ring into the fire. Harry Potter would be nowhere without his friends. And the Guardians of the Galaxy might annoy the hell out of eachother, but they still work as a team (sort of). The point is, different people have different skills. I can spend a week trying to make a simple sketch and the result will look terrible, or I can ask one of my artist friends to help me out and will have something much better in 10 minutes. And of course I’m there for them when they need my help. No matter how much you know, you’ll know more when you team up. People who are like you might be easy to work with, but it’s people with complementing skill sets who can really make a difference in what you’re trying to accomplish.

Develop new knowledge and skills

Just because you’re a hero doesn’t mean you were born with everything you need to know. In every epic story heroes have to develop new knowledge and skills to accomplish their goals. Just look at the average jedi training. You’re no different. Constantly performing might give you the illusion of productivity, but in the long run you’ll be more efficiënt if you set aside some time to learn. So the next time you’re stuck ask yourself: what skills do you need to develop to get things done.

Also, this Ted-talk on the subject is damn good:

Look for distraction

Yes, I know you need to get this done. Yes, I know you need to get this done NOW. But clearly that’s not going to happen. So just take some time off and go do something to distract you. First of all, it’s better for your health and if you’re anything like me also better for your relationships (who otherwise would suffer your from your frustration). Second of all, giving your mind some time to decompress actually triggers very new connections in your brain, allowing you to come up with creative solutions. So yes, procrastinating is perfectly fine.

Find a way around it

Sometimes we’re so focussed on getting something done we forget to ask ourselves if this thing really needs doing. You can spend weeks to learn how to swim across a river or you can find a bridge. Is your solution REALLY the only viable one out there? Are you sure? Instead of finding a way to do what you’re doing, ask yourself if you can do something else. From my personal example: it took me ages to find an affordable appartment after the breakup with my ex. Eventually I gave up and… got myself a van to live in. Problem solved.