Just Ask: A Tutorial
cropped version of original photo by Otama (https://www.flickr.com/photos/otama/402299217/)
I’m currently in the final stretches of a fundraising campaign that will enable me to go to a fabulous conference next month. And no, I’m not asking you for money. I’m sharing because this experience has been a great reminder of what can happen when we ask for what we want. Something that looked impossible a few weeks ago is now happening—all because I had the courage to share my story and ask “Can you help me?”
I’ve been amazed and humbled and inspired by people’s generosity. I’m overwhelmed with gratitude. And I want you to know that your version of this can happen, too.
It can be hard for us to ask for what we want. Our society prides itself on go-it-alone-ness. Often, we think we don’t deserve what we’re asking for. Or we can get caught up in the negatives that could happen when we ask: people will say no or think we’re too forward or a million other possibilities that don’t sound so fun.
Ask anyway. Otherwise you risk missing out.
Get clear on what you want and why you want it before you ask.
The clearer you are on the what and the why, the easier the ask is and the more likely you’ll get the answer you want. Think about it—if someone asked you for something but was all wishy-washy and apologetic about it, would you feel compelled to help?
I find the best way for me to gain clarity is by writing. Sometimes I write out my what and why, sometimes I write down the way I want the conversation to go, sometimes I just make a list of bullet points. Whatever it is, it all helps me come from an authentic place and be ready for any questions that might come along the way.
Know you deserve what you’re asking for.
This doesn’t mean getting all cocky and entitled; it actually comes from a place of love and compassion: trusting you deserve whatever good comes your way just because you’re you and you’re awesome.
For many people, this is a hard concept to grasp. If it is, please join me on this little adventure:
Picture yourself as a little kid. Now, does that child deserve to have his or her needs met? 100% yes.
Next, does that child deserve to have whatever will help him or her grow and live a joyful, fulfilling, love-filled life? Absofreakinlutely.
You are STILL that child. Sure, maybe you’ve made some mistakes along the way. Maybe you’ve internalized messages from others saying you’re not worthy. Maybe you’ve even got a long list of why you shouldn’t or won’t get what you want.
NONE OF THAT negates the fact that you deserve whatever your soul longs for.
So talk to yourself like you’d want someone to talk to you as a child—fill your heart with compassion, understanding, generosity and love. However long it takes, however many ways you need to say it, keep telling yourself you deserve it all until you fully believe it’s true.
Don’t get all graspy.
Come to the ask from a pure place. “I need this NOW!” is the energy equivalent of a temper tantrum. It isn’t gonna get you anywhere, and it’ll likely send whomever you’re addressing running away as fast as their legs can carry them.
Instead, ask once you’ve reached a place of calm confidence. Be genuine. Ask from your heart, not your head. Go into the ask considering the act of asking as a win, regardless of the result.
Let go of the result.
I have to admit—this is the hardest part for me. Here’s how I tend to approach it:
- If I get a no, at least I asked, and I’m proud of myself for trying.
- If I get a no, then I’ll likely be in the same situation I was in, so nothing was lost.
- If I get a no and there’s fallout, then clearly I’m on the wrong path and/or interacting with the wrong people. It’s a great chance to take stock and change course as necessary.
- If I get a no, it’s because a better yes is on its way. (Cliché, but I’ve also found it’s true.)
- If I get a yes, I get what I want! YAY!
Who to ask and how:
So who should you ask? Everyone. There have been many instances where I’ve gotten help from people I’d never have expected it from. There have also been numerous times I’ve gotten help from people I didn’t even know.
I’m a big fan of asking the Universe, too. I write it down in my journal, make requests during meditation, and silently ask when the idea pops up in my thoughts. I’m not big on formal prayer, but if you are, obviously that’s a great time to ask, too.
How should you ask? Clearly, politely, and from a place of integrity. Stand in your truth and show your passion for what you’re asking for. You’ve already done the work in getting clear on your what and your why, so let that shine through.
For the record, I always ask that way, regardless of whether I’m posting a fundraising campaign or silently thinking my request while I walk my dog. I’ve seen for myself that the clearer, more respectful, and more genuine my request, the more likely I am to get what I’m asking for.
What to do when you get a no:
First and foremost, remain calm and gracious, thank the person anyway, and move on.
Then remember that a no is NOT the end of the world. It’s just the end of that particular little journey. There are still a million ways your journey could go. To that end, there are a couple options for next steps:
- Accept the no and keep going towards your yes. Take stock of what happened. Maybe you asked the wrong person. Maybe the timing was off. Maybe your approach could’ve been clearer. Maybe your energy was more desperate than open. Once you see how you could’ve approached the situation differently, regroup and try again while keeping this new perspective in mind.
- Accept the no and change direction. Do a little soul searching. Is this really the right path? Or are you meant to travel down a different road? If so, what does that road look like? The right answer will always make you feel freer and lighter.
What to do when you get a yes:
Be grateful every time, no matter how small the yes. Consider celebrating with a happy dance, a high five, or cartwheels.
But don’t let it stop there. Find a way to give back to those who gave to you. Depending on the person and how they’ve helped, you can repay them with a genuine thank you, a great review, a service, or a gift.
It’s also important to pay it forward. Just as others have been kind and generous to you, be kind and generous to others whenever you get the chance. It’s the best and most fun way I know to have a positive impact on the world.
Over the years, I’ve become a big believer in “just ask.”
- A month ago, I missed a bill payment for the first time in my life. I called to apologize, pointed out my otherwise perfect payment record, and asked if there was a way to void the late fee. Without hesitation, the customer service rep deleted it for me, pointing out that everyone makes mistakes. I stayed on the line after she hung up so I could give her a great customer service review.
- I had a freelance client I’d been working with for a couple years. I decided I wanted to raise my rates, did the research to ensure what I was asking for was reasonable, and sent him an email about my new rate in response to a new project request. I was nervous, but my client was totally on board. It was a great reminder that I should always ask for what I’m worth because, well, I’m worth it.
- Back when I was trying to figure out what career I wanted, I was a big fan of informational interviews. I would ask friends and relatives if they knew of anyone I could talk to. I almost always got at least a phone interview. People generously shared their time and stories with me, and I got a much clearer picture than I ever would’ve had I just done the research online. If we met in person, it was usually at a coffee shop, so I paid for their drink. I also always sent a thank you note to follow up.
- Fundraisers: In high school, I raised hundreds of dollars for the Alzheimer’s Association in honor of my grandmother’s long struggle with the disease. In college, I was campus chair of the United Jewish Appeals Campus Campaign and raised a record amount of money that helped both Jews and non-Jews locally and worldwide. And, of course, there’s the fundraiser that inspired this post.
I’m always passionate about whatever it is I’m raising funds for. I share my story, always make sure they know exactly where their money’s going, and thank them in the moment and with a follow-up once the fundraiser’s over. In my current fundraiser, I’m offering various coaching sessions as thank you gifts, which enables me to help those who’ve donated achieve their goals, too.
To be honest, I still often get nervous when I ask for what I want. But I've found the regrets come when I don't ask, never when I do, even when the answer has been no. That's why, despite the nerves, I remain fiercely loyal to the mantra that's bettered my life over and over again: just ask.
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If you’re someone who has a hard time asking for things, I encourage you to go through these steps. I’m willing to bet your life will change in many wonderful ways!
I’d love to hear how it goes, so please share your stories in the comments or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. (Yes, that’s me asking!)
If you get stuck along the way, you can always schedule a coaching session with me. And all potential new clients get a free, no obligation consultation session. It’s a great way to find out what coaching with me is like, get some help in the process, and practice asking for what you want—wins all around!
How to Get Through the Hard Times: Follow Your Curiosity
If you’re human, you’re gonna go through some difficult stuff in life. It’s just part of the deal.
When you do, chances are you’ll feel a lot of strong (and possibly overwhelming) emotions including but not limited to anger, stress, frustration, or sadness. Hell, maybe you end up dealing with it for so long, you reach the point of apathy.
There are so many ways to successfully navigate these hard times, and everyone’s path is different. But there’s an overarching tool that I find helps in pretty much every situation: follow your curiosity.
It doesn’t have to be some grand gesture, like you’re curious about elephants so you sell all your worldly possessions and move to another continent attempt to become part of a herd. (Although if that feels right to you, then who am I to stop you?)
I’m just talking about noticing what sparks an interest. Does something come across your path that makes you feel even just the teensiest bit of excitement? Does someone say something and you suddenly find yourself wanting to know more?
THAT’S CURIOSITY. FOLLOW IT.
Follow it even if it’s something you already know a lot about. Follow it if it’s something totally new to you. Follow it even if it seems stupid or like a complete waste of time. (Chances are that if you’re curious about it, there’s a reason.)
Maybe the thing you’re curious about is just a much-needed distraction to help make things a little easier. Maybe it’s a stepping stone. Or maybe it’s the key to getting yourself out of the hard times and into something way more fun. And you know what? There’s only one way to find out!
A PERSONAL EXAMPLE
Looking back, I can see that following my curiosity has helped me get through every hard time in my life. Most recently, it’s been my approach to getting myself healthy again.
When I’ve felt that spark of curiosity about a book someone recommends, I’ve immediately found and read the book. When it was clear my doctor wasn’t the right fit, I found myself curious about naturopaths and ended up working with a great one. When I suddenly became fascinated by mind-body medicine and alternative healing modalities, I turned to my village of life coaches for suggestions, and their responses were both helpful and fascinating.
It’s been a combination of things that finally got me moving on this road to healing, and every single piece of the puzzle started with something that made me feel curious.
COACHING TOOL: FOLLOW YOUR CURIOSITY
Your assignment, should you chose to accept it, is to follow something that’s recently piqued your curiosity.
If you can’t think of anything, there are a couple of options: you can either think about something you were curious about as a child or just keep your eyes and ears open and trust that the spark will come.
Following your curiosity can include but is not limited to:
- Finding books (bonus points for instant ebook or audiobook download)
- Contacting someone who knows about the subject
- Looking for videos on YouTube
- Putting a sticky note someplace you’ll see it that says “I’m curious about ______”
- Writing down what kind of positive impact this could have on your life. (It doesn’t have to be right—the act of writing just amps up your excitement.)
- Finding movies or TV shows
- creating your own list of baby steps you can take to learn more about the subject
I’d love to hear how this works for you. What are you curious about? How did you follow your curiosity? Feel free to comment here or shoot me an email at email@example.com and let me know!