*This post is (an updated version) from David’s book, “Punch Failure in The Face, The Buy It a Beer”
Helping other people achieve their goals is an important success strategy; but what about when we need help, or just want something for ourselves – What then? It’s a great question with a simple answer: Whenever we need help or want something for ourselves, we must boldly and unapologetically ask for it. And yes, it’s really that easy.
Whether it’s a last slice of delicious pizza, a deal on a snazzy new shirt at The Gap or an introduction to someone we’d love to meet, the quickest and best way to get what we want is to ask for it. Besides, if we don’t ask for things we want, you know who will ask for us? That would be… Nobody!
But before we become excellent receivers, we must first become excellent askers; something I know is a challenge for some folks. Let’s face it: We’ve all met (or been) that person who wanders grocery store aisles looking for something but refusing to ask where it is… Seriously, how embarrassing and awkward would that be… can you imagine? Oh, the shame! The horror!
What the aimlessly wandering supermarket zombies (and other timid non-askers) don’t realize is that asking a clerk “which aisle are the dill pickles?” or boldly admitting we need help of any kind shows our strength, not our weakness. And it’s not just me who thinks so.
Spiritual teacher/healer Dr.Anne Wilson Schaef says, “Asking for help does not mean we are weak or incompetent. It indicates an advanced level of honesty and intelligence”
Matthew 7:7 says,“Ask and it shall be given; seek, and ye shall find”
One whole country – Denmark – has a proverb that roughly translates as, “He who is afraid of asking is ashamed of learning.” The Danes believe that not asking for the things they want makes them less than people. Harsh, but true… Pass the Schnapps please!
With such diverse groups endorsing the idea, why don’t more people ask for what they want? Often it’s because awkward and embarrassing feelings creep up whenever we humans perceive ourselves as being vulnerable; or sometimes we don’t think to boldly ask for things we want, so of course we never get them. Put this way it seems kind of lame not to ask for things we want, right?
When lecturing at a gala event one evening, I spoke about this very topic. Once I’d finished my bit, I returned to my seat with eyes on gobbling up the remaining bites of the molten lava chocolate cake I’d abandoned minutes earlier to “sing for my supper”. Then something interesting happened. A lady approached and said the concept of asking for what we want was (in her words) “like a light bulb going on that illuminated a missing piece of a puzzle” that she’d been struggling with. In a nutshell, her story was this:
As fundraiser for her child’s special needs sports team, this woman had given inspiring presentations to various civic and service clubs highlighting how disabled youth benefited from their skiing program. As the parent of a disabled son myself, I was both impressed and intrigued. And a little bit saddened.
However, she said, there was a problem. Despite presenting to countless of groups she’d yet to raise a single cent from any of the organizations she was soliciting donations from. She couldn’t understand why; that was until she heard my talk that evening.
The groups she presented to believed her presentation was shining a light on a terrific organization that involves special needs kids in sports – period. She looked me squarely in the eye and said, “I didn’t ask any of them for help funding our program”. Bingo.
Should these clubs have realized she was looking for financial support? Of course; in fact, I believe they did. But without a clear request for cash, they also didn’t feel inclined to offer it. So in exchange for her presentation, rather than giving her the donation she came for she got a plate of soggy scrambled eggs, some dry toast and a cup of weak coffee. As far as the children she wanted to help were concerned, she was sent away empty-handed.
The next day I worked with her to revise the pitch to include asking for what she wanted, which is funding for the kid’s sports program. Now whenever she offers to present to service clubs, before she utters a word from the stage there’ll be no mistake what her expected outcome is.
As long as we approach people with a sense of support, respect and/or collaboration, we should ask anyone for anything we want; anything except for the last slice of pizza that is. I already called dibs on that.
Leaders know that whenever we want or need something, it’s up to us to ask for it, and in plain language that people understand. Oh, and when asking pizza counter-people or sales people or baristas for a little something extra, good manners and a nice demeanour always go a long way. Make mine extra cheese and pepperoni baby!
Besides, the worst that can happen is they’ll say no; but then again, what if they don’t?
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 112,000 times, and his book, “Punch Failure in The Face, The Buy It a Beer” has 36 five star reviews on amazon.ca.
David lives in Victoria B.C. and 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.