“If you don’t go after what you want, you’ll never have it. If you don’t ask, the answer is always no. If you don’t step forward, you’re always in the same place.” ~Nora Roberts
If You Don’t Ask, the Answer Will Always Be No
by Blume Bauer
I remember a saying my grandmother said to me as a child, after having expressing my desire for something (most likely a pony, I always wanted a pony). She said to me “You don’t ask, you don’t get.” I don’t recall whether I understood her at the time, nor do I recall whether I put her suggestion to the test. I *do* know that I eventually got a pony – two in fact! Maybe it was because I asked for them every year for my birthday and Christmas or maybe it’s because my dad was in the right place at the right time when he got the ponies for me. Either way, what I remember is that I had two ponies, Charlie and Cupcake. The were ornery but I loved them. I fed them apples and sugar cubes, put out the salt lick, walked and rode them. They are one of many favorite memories of my childhood.
I hadn’t really thought much about this phrase my grandmother said to me until a couple of years ago. I’ve always been somewhat entrepreneurial, but in 2012, I decided to go for it and become a full-fledged entrepreneur, planning and producing events. As an entrepreneur, there are a LOT of things I need as I go through the phases of my business. Whether it’s help in a field I’m not familiar with, help on daily tasks that I can’t get done all by myself, or help deciding which path to take next – there is always something I need.
A couple of years ago, I read an article on Inc. Magazine by an entrepreneur, Jason Zook, who reiterated my grandmother’s phrase from all of those years ago. He talked about the idea of asking for what you need so that you have a better chance of getting it. Makes sense right? If I ask for things, I have a 50/50 chance the answer will be yes. If I don’t ask for things, the answer (in a way) is always no because I never asked for it in the first place. He also presented the idea that as an entrepreneur, we should get in the habit of asking. Ask for something everywhere you go, whether it’s extra napkins, a mint, a discount, etc. Ask for things that are silly and ridiculous just to see what happens. If it becomes a habit and you can get over the idea of being rejected, asking can change your world. People, as much as we would like them to, can’t read our minds. They don’t know what we want until we ask. (This goes for relationships too by the way.)
Shortly after reading the article, I was working a festival with my long time friend and business partner, Debi Varvi. We went to dinner the night before the festival started to catch up on things and have a bite to eat. We went to a cute little Mexican restaurant near her house. We had a great dinner and conversation. I brought up the article about asking for what we need and want. We talked about the concept for a bit and I made a definitive decision that from that day forward, I was going to ask more – even if it meant more rejection. My theory was that it would also mean more rewards than I would get without ever asking.
As we sat there, we also discussed the weekend ahead. We would be camping at the Huck Finn Jubilee and we were discussing our plans and what we needed for the weekend. This particular festival always has the best food! So, we didn’t need much in the way of food, but I mentioned that I had brought my grill and the ingredients to make some grilled quesadillas and pineapples. Just then, I realized, I had forgotten to bring any salsa. And what is a quesadilla without salsa? It would be a travesty in my world! Debi mentioned that we could stop at the market on the way back to her house that night after dinner. Good idea… but wait! We were INSIDE a Mexican restaurant – that, by the way, had excellent salsa. I mentioned to Debi that I was going to ask the waitress if we could purchase some salsa to go. I figured it couldn’t hurt. Worst-case scenario, she said no and we stopped by the market after dinner.
The waitress came by the table and asked if there was anything else she could get us. I said, “You know, we’re vending at Huck Finn Fest this weekend and I forgot to bring salsa for our grilled quesadillas. Is there anyway I could purchase some salsa to take home from the restaurant?” The waitress was very sweet and graciously told us that she would check with the manager. When she returned, she had a large sized drink cup FILLED with their delicious salsa. She bent over a bit and in a hushed voice said “We don’t normally sell our salsa to go, but the manager was feeling generous and wanted me to give you some to take home.”
Wow! I was shocked, very pleased, but also shocked. I had expected that I would MAYBE get one of those very little clear to-go cups filled with salsa. I looked at Debi and said “It works! If I ask, I have a better chance of getting the thing I need!” I thanked the waitress profusely and of course we left her a hefty tip for her sweetness and her willingness to pass on the question to her manager.
From that day on, if there’s something I’m really needing, or help I’m in need of, or even something I want… I start asking for it. I may or may not get it. It may take some time before I do. But the one thing I can say for sure is that I receive a lot more than I would if I had never asked for these things in the first place.
Are you in the habit of asking for what you need and/or want? Why or why not?