Are You Willing to Ask?

How much do you want it? 

Whatever ‘it’ is, how often have you wanted something so badly that you could taste it? But for whatever reason you were afraid to ask?

Even though I’ve known forever that if I want something, I’ve got to ask for it or else I’ll get either the standard fare or nothing, I still have difficulty asking.

Most of the time we don’t ask it’s because we fear rejection. That fear can manifest itself in living with the status quo or, as I often do, try to do something on my own that I really need help with because I don’t want to be told “I can’t help” or worse, be thought of as inadequate because I asked.

Either way, that fear is causing you and me to achieve less than we’re capable of and enjoying the process less than we should because of it.

I had the good fortune to hear Jia Jiang speak at a Storyline conference recently. It was Jiang’s quest to face rejection and move into the resistance that the fear generates that helped me decide to choose the word ‘ask’ as one of my guiding words for 2013. You can read about Jiang’s ‘100 Days of Rejection’ and watch his TED talk if you want to be challenged to face your own versions of rejection.

What I’ve come to realize in trying to grow beyond my current abilities to have an impact through my work is that I need other people.

I can’t do what I believe I need to do without learning more, unlocking the access to people and places that I don’t have keys to, and collaborating with folks who have skills that I lack but are critical to delivering the quality of service that I expect.

To take ownership of my vision and see it through I must face rejection. Because what I’ve discovered is worse – far worse – than rejection is missing a significant opportunity because of fear.

Jia Jiang states it well.

My rejection therapy taught me that “the worst they can say is no” is actually not true. In fact, the worst they can say is “you didn’t even ask”. It implies I said ‘no’ to myself before others could reject me. If I have a good reason, it is my duty to step out of my own comfort zone to ask, no matter how difficult and impossible the request is.

Although I’ve focused on the process of ‘asking’ throughout this year, I have yet to find that it comes easy to me. Every time I ask for something that I’m uncomfortable with, my stomach churns. Every. Time.

But I am learning to ask anyway. Discomfort is a modest investment to make to get the abundant returns that most ‘asking’ allows for.

Becoming more cognizant of my own fear has heightened my consciousness of others’ as well. It has made me acutely aware of the self-imposed limitations that many of my friends and business associates are living under. I’ve come to understand that I can nudge them to increase their boldness but I cannot force them to grow. Their boundaries are what they are.

Often, the fear we recognize in others is a reflection of our own angst. I’m trying to use the anxiety that I encounter as a mirror to reflect my own walls of comfort.

The discomfort of trying and the possible disappointment that threatens when we consider trying are great impediments to making the effort. But as Seth Godin pointed out in a recent post, “For many people, apparently, it’s better to not get what you want than it is to be disappointed. The resistance is powerful indeed.”


How are you facing resistance and asking for what you need to manifest your vision? 



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