“ It never hurts to ask…” If you have ever spent time with me, I'm sure you've heard this phrase pop out of my mouth.
It's one of my mantras.
It's the main reason I have a successful art career. I ask…..a lot.
It's a very simple idea but it's powerful, and I have used it over and over again. I thought it might be helpful to break it down so you can see how this powerful phrase works and why.
How it works:
Think through your request--What is it you really want? Are you looking for connections or chances to network? Do you need some critique or someone to listen to your ideas? Do you need some financial backing? Are you looking for someone to teach you something? Think through your big idea and break it into ask able requests.
Next, consider who would be the best person to approach--A colleague? A business down the street? Your good friend who will be totally honest with you? After you have figured out the target, you need to place yourself in opportunities to make your ask. This may mean signing up for an event or placing a phone call and offering to buy said person a coffee. Maybe it’s dropping by the office. The who for your ask is not always easy to figure out and sometimes you think you know who to ask and it doesn’t work out. That’s OK. That doesn’t mean your request is not valid. Find another person to ask. There’s a lot of people in the world!
When your ask is denied or stays unanswered-- This is inevitable. You’re going to have to deal with No’s. I usually get 20 "no's" for every "yes." Sometimes many more. This is simply how life works and I believe it is good practice to know these odds upfront so that you aren’t devastated by every "no" that comes your way. If the person you are asking can’t help you, ask he/she a follow up question….”do you know anyone who would be interested or could help me with this….?” This is how I got into my first gallery here in Colorado. I asked that follow up question. 8 years later, I’m still with this gallery and I’m so grateful for the relationship. Keep asking.
When the answer is yes--GREAT! This gives you confidence for the next ask you have and it also helps you to move forward with your idea. It’s not a pipe dream anymore, it’s out there and has physical substance.
It might be terrifying, in fact, I still get butterflies each time I’m confronted with the decision to ask or not to ask, but the formula is simple. Just be brave. The worst that can happen is that he/she/they will say "no" and you’ve heard that before. It’s not that bad.
Why it works:
Asking works because you can’t accomplish your life dreams all on your own. You have limitations. When you start asking for help, you expand beyond your limitations and it also causes you to stay motivated since you’ve now made your dreams and your “asks” real. Once you start getting “yes’s,” you need to move to the next step and the next and then before you know it, you are precisely where you wanted to be or even beyond. Asking acknowledges your limitations and it empowers others by giving them a chance to use their strengths. This is powerful, indeed.
What do you need to ask about? What is holding you back? When you are too afraid to ask for help or don’t even know how to put your request into words, go ask the One who is always willing to take your requests and knows what you need and want even better than you do. He can get you started and pointed in the right direction. Trust me. (Matthew 7:7)