Asking for what you want is critical to meeting your goals, but it’s a surprisingly difficult thing to do. I know I struggle with it all the time. When I ask someone for help I worry that I’m bothering them, or taking advantage of them. What’s weird is that I don’t worry they will say “No”. I’m actually more worried that they will say “Yes”! If they agree to help me I worry they won’t follow through or they are secretly mad at me for “making” them help.
The reality is that no one gets anything done alone. We all need help. We only have so much time, knowledge, and energy. No one has every contact, every skill, and every resource needed to achieve their dreams. The more you ask for help, the more access you get to the resources of others. And the big secret is that people want to help you! Think about how willing you would be to help someone if they asked.
How To Ask For Help
One key factor in effective asking is to be specific. If you are going to ask for help you can’t just say “I need help with my kids.” You have to be specific. “Will you watch my kids on Saturday from 12:00 til 3:00 so I can work overtime?” Now, that’s a question someone can answer! You are a lot more likely to get what you need if you specifically ask for it.
I’m trying to drill this into my kid’s heads. “I’m hungry” doesn’t get you fed around here. “I’m bored” doesn’t get you entertained. I answer those questions with “Well, decide what you want and then come ask me.” They almost always get what they ask for if they are specific. Usually their requests are very reasonable.
Another asking tip is to not take no for an answer. Keep asking! Eventually you will find someone who is willing to help. Let’s use our babysitting example again. You need someone to watch your kids on Saturday from Noon to 3:00. The first person you ask might say no. You don’t just throw up your hands in defeat. You ask someone else, and someone else, and someone else. Eventually you will find someone who is willing to do it.
Kids know this intuitively. They know if they just keep asking and asking eventually they will get what they desire. The marketing industry even has a name for it “the nag factor”. They know that if they can get kids to ask their parents over and over, eventually their product will be purchased.
One of my all time favorite books is “The Aladdin Factor” by Mark Victor Hansen. This book talks about the power of asking for what you want. It’s a powerful concept. I’ve owned this book for probably close to 15 years and I’ve read it several times. It’s all tattered and earmarked, and I love it. I took the book out so that I could refer to it while I wrote this article and I’ve read almost all of it. I can’t put it down! It is filled with amazing stories of people asking for, and getting, what they want. Some of the stories are of people who raise money for a special project. Some are about making amazing things happen. Some are about the value of persistence in the face of failure. All are motivating and powerful.