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How Willing Are You To Ask for What You Need?

One of the things I’m still perfecting in my life is my ability – my willingness – to ask for things. For help. For time. For a cookie. Whatever.

I’m getting much better at it – heck, I’m a lot better at it than when I first opened my business doors a decade and half ago, that’s for sure. And there are times when my “ask-muscle” still stiffens up. What I know, is that I’m not the only one who grapples with this. In light of the universality of this challenge, I want to offer some advice:  ASK FOR WHAT YOU WANT. ALWAYS.

Worst case scenario, the answer is a resounding “no-can-do”. Best case scenario, you get exactly what you ask for. In-between scenario, we negotiate to something that works for both.

A mentor and teacher of mine, Henry Kimsey-House, once said,, “ask for 100% of what you need, 100% of the time; then STAY available to negotiate the difference.” It’s a quote I have loved ever since I heard it; one that has served me well; and one that I still need a refresher on from time-to-time.

My guess is that you could benefit from its wisdom as well. So, let’s break it down and flesh it out a bit, right here.

Ask for 100% of what you need – not just 50% or 10% or even 90% -- ask for ALL of it. Resist the urge to “be reasonable” and make judgments about what is or isn’t reasonable. Just ask for it all. And then wait.

Ask 100% of the time – don’t just ask when you’ve run out of options, or when you’ve hit a brick wall, or when “a reasonable amount of time has passed” since your last ask. Train yourself to always be willing to ask. Why? Because one of the critical keys to success – no matter who you are – is being able to ask for help. This can take a lot of forms and requires practice. So ask, all the time. Build your ask muscle.

Stay available to negotiate the difference – the staying part is harder than you might think. So often, when you get an answer, you turn tail and retreat. You may, in fact, need to retreat eventually – but don’t do it too soon. Stay in the space – energetically and physically – and be fully present to negotiate. Explore options; share concerns; challenge oppositions. Once you’ve done that – whole-heartedly – then, you can retreat. And when you do, you may actually walk away with more than you thought possible. It may or may not match your original 100% ask; and it may be something of value nonetheless.

As human beings, one of the things we’ve gotten wrong over time, is the idea that “asking for help” is somehow a sign of weakness. We tell ourselves that the capacity to do things on our own is a sign of strength and that independence is to be valued above all else.

Bottom-line: while independence can be a good thing, it’s not so great when it prevents you from reaping the benefits of interconnectedness and support. Whatever you’re working on, whatever challenge you’re facing, whatever question has you perplexed, ask for help. Strengthen your asking muscle; and enjoy the sense of ease that follows.

Tracy Harvie