Everyone knows offering help to other people is important; but what about when we need help with something ourselves? What then?
It’s simple, really. Whenever we need and/or want something from others, we must step up and unapologetically ask for it. That’s it, that’s all. It also begs the question: If asking for things we need/want significantly increases our odds of getting them, what stops us from asking in the first place?
It’s because the act of asking in itself is an act of vulnerability. It creates an internal tug-of-war in our minds between potentially feeling awkward and embarrassed (but possibly getting what we want), and “keeping our damn mouth shut” to save experiencing said feelings of awkwardness and embarrassment, but in turn not getting what we want.
The struggle is real; and it’s one I’m all too familiar with!
A few years ago I was in Agra, India, visiting the world famous Taj Mahal, which is truly stunning. (and has a remarkable backstory) In front of the towering, white edifice are several perfectly manicured lawns with benches scattered around; and on this day, on one such bench I saw three beautifully adorned ladies, just talking and laughing and enjoying the day. A closer look led me to believe they were likely a mother and her two daughters.
As an amateur photographer, I wanted to get a shot of these graceful, beautiful women in their vibrant, colourful garments… but how? In a moment of foolish insanity, I tried to inconspicuously sneak one, hoping they’d not notice me just a few short yards away, fumbling about with my camera at waist height.
In photography, this approach is known as: (a) stupid, (b) dumb, and (c) disrespectful. Regardless of what it’s called, here’s how the shot turned out.
Okay, clearly this would not win the Pulitzer; not because the subjects weren’t amazing, because they were. It was because I was behaving like an idiot.
Time to try again. After milling around a bit, I tried to position myself for the perfect shot before I high-tailed it outta there without getting caught. When the moment seemed right, I whipped my camera out from under my coat, and snap! Here’s what I got.
Damn! It still sucks, and worse still is that two of the ladies were now watching this weird tourist -me- whose behaviour is at this point, questionable. If I were to get the shot I wanted, I needed a new game plan, and fast. Because let’s be honest, it’s not like I’m going to be here, or have this opportunity again, right?
Then it dawned on me: Why don’t I just ask if I may take their picture? What’s the worst that could happen?
I mustered the courage and slowly approached them. “May I take your photo please?” I asked sheepishly, readying myself for a rejection that never came. In fact, I’ll never forget their response.
The ladies tacitly smiled at one another, and then at me. They gently and simultaneously repositioned themselves ever so slightly (and hid a water bottle) before each of them looked directly into the camera, demonstrating complete confidence and grace. When they were ready, I took the shot. And it’s incredible.
Even with the famous Taj Mahal partially visible in the background, this photo belongs entirely to these ladies. It demonstrates their poise, independence and femininity; it also shows the confidence they have in themselves, and their culture.
Once I was finished, I thanked them individually for their kindness and participation. Again, with no words spoken they smiled, nodded and then got back to enjoying their day.
I’ve taken photos in over fifty countries on six continents, and without a doubt this is the very best one I’ve ever shot; and I got it for one simple reason: I asked for what I wanted, and some wonderful and kind ladies were happy to oblige my request.
This tactic worked so well for me, that I now always ask for what I want, and not just with photography. I do so with the understanding that the worst that might happen is someone says no, and my request isn’t granted. But so far, the odds are stacked in my favour that they are.
And what’s the best that might happen to/for me anytime I ask for something I want?
That all depends on what it is I’m asking for. I’m also fully aware that I’ll probably get it.
Author Bio: David Knapp-Fisher
As founder of The Inspired Humans Project, David loves sharing inspirational stories. His TEDx talk, “Discipline or Regret, a Father’s Decision” been viewed over 100,000 times, and his first book, “Punch Failure in The Face, Then Buy It a Beer” has 36 five star reviews on amazon.ca.
David lives in Victoria B.C. where he spends most of his time trying (& usually failing) to stump his son with movie trivia, or planning his next big adventure; both while drinking great coffee, of course.