Get Your Biering’s: Letting go of my omnipotent self

It’s not a crime to accept help occasionally (photo: Pixabay)
March 20th, 2022 5:00 pm| by Signe Biering Nielsen
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I can run. Or rather: I thought I could run. I knew I couldn’t run fast, but at least I could move.

And then I met Lotte. She is an osteopath. She told me in no uncertain terms that my back was at serious risk. She now has to work with me for months – and at a substantial fee – in order to reteach me how to run in order to save my back. 

All by myself
In my day job, as a leadership coach and culture expert, I help my clients to reflect on their leadership practices and their companies, passing no judgement whilst drawing on my own experience and knowledge in the process. 

But in my private life, I evidently believe I can do everything … myself. I can leave my back to fix itself, self-diagnose and treat the cat’s ailments, change ‘the water thingy’ in the shower, and so on – all without involving my husband, let alone calling an expert. 

Why? Maybe because I do not want to hear anyone say: “Why didn’t you call earlier?” or “That can’t be fixed!” or “Why did you THINK you knew how to do this yourself??!” 

Worse, the condition has become more entrenched over time. Many years of living abroad have solidified the feeling that I can do everything myself.

Joys of outside input
It dawns on me that others may feel the same. In my research project, Project Onboard Denmark, my colleagues and I talk to many HR professionals, CEOs and experts on onboarding, and some of them are unsure about reaching out for help. Can we do the recruitment and onboarding of internationals ourselves, or do we really need specialist knowledge or skills?  

In my experience, there may be many reasons for this uncertainty – and I now see that one of them may be the (to me very familiar) pull towards saying “We can fix it ourselves!” 

But our research and our experience from working alongside companies has shown us that companies do benefit from getting input from outside. And from talking to other companies who are in the same situation. 

Learning to learn
You may have examples of your own. When do you say “We can fix it ourselves” when expertise exists out there? 

Like me and my running: it might be time to realise there are people and expertise out there who can actually help you take great strides forward without you having to endure the same mistakes that other people have made. 

My back is better now, thanks to Lotte. And as for letting go of my omnipotent self? It has not hurt as much as I thought it would. 

Signe Biering Nielsen


After 20 years in the Danish diplomatic service, including stints in India, China and Israel as deputy ambassador, Signe Biering Nielsen is turning her diplomatic binoculars onto the (in her view) intriguing Danes. She is an executive advisor and coach with a focus on internationals in Denmark. See LinkedIn and Instagram for more details.

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