“Ask and you shall receive. Seek and you shall find. Knock and the door shall be opened unto you.” These words of Christ express a natural law; mainly, the world responds to those who ask. Percy Ross (Percy Ross, 1916~2001, see his book in the References section) describes this profound fact in more playful terms, “The world is full of genies waiting to grant your wishes.” If we only knew what we’re not receiving because we’re not asking, we’d surely change our behaviour.
Those of us who are married or in relationships are so because we asked the person of our dreams to share their life with us. So, inherently, we all know that we can realize our dreams merely by asking. And yet, after finding their mate and job, many people stop asking. Consequently, they stop receiving. Their dreams are vaporized. Their progress halted. Their happiness stunted.
Why do we stop asking? Mainly because we’re afraid the person we’re asking will say no. Marcia Martin explains why such a notion is foolish: “What I point out to people is that it’s silly to be afraid that you’re not going to get what you want if you ask. Because you are already not getting what you want. They always laugh about that because they realize it’s so true. Without asking you already have failed, you already have nothing. What are you afraid of? You’re afraid of getting what you already have! It’s ridiculous! Who cares if you don’t get it when you ask for it, because, before you ask for it, you don’t have it anyway. So there’s really nothing to be afraid of.”
Another reason for people not asking for what they want is they believe they are unworthy of it. The solution is to make you worthy. I may want to get a raise at work, but I am not automatically entitled to one merely because I put in time and carry out my responsibilities; after all, that’s what I am paid to do. However, if I do more than I am supposed to and make myself a valuable member of the company, I become worthy of a raise and can then ask for one. If I’m turned down, I can ask for advice on what else I can do to earn a raise in the future. So, I have nothing to lose by asking. At the very least, I will gain some knowledge on how to better my chances in the future, as well as impress my superior with my ambition.
We have to learn from our children and pet dogs and cats. Don’t they live by the principle that it never hurts to ask? We need to do the same. It is essential to realize that we cannot reach our goals without the help of others. Therefore, we must ask them for their help. True, we may not get what we ask for, but we will never get what we don’t ask for!
To start getting more out of life, we need to ask ourselves a series of questions. Questions like, “What do I want that I am not asking for now? What is needed to get what I want? Who can help me get what I need? What are the obstacles I need to overcome? What path of action should I take to overcome those obstacles? What are the worst and best that could happen by asking? What is most likely to happen? What am I waiting for?
Also, prepare the way by following another universal law, which is, “You only receive what you give away.” In other words, before you can expect others to respond favorably to your requests, you have to willingly cooperate with those asking for your help. Be generous and kind. This sets in motion relationships and networks that are predisposed to help you because you are worthy of it.
Need more help around the house from your spouse? Need more training to improve your job performance? Need your neighbor to stop blocking your driveway with his pickup truck? Need your doctor to explain in greater detail what your options are? Need help in doing your school report? Need to have your friend stop blabbing about the things you tell her in private? Accomplish your aims; achieve your wishes, and get what you want out of life by asking for it.
How to Ask for What You Want
- Develop the proper mindset. That is, recognize that people are the source of our power; we are both worthy of being helped by others and obligated to help those in need of help; realize that we live in a friendly, supportive world rather than a hostile one, and that there is plenty to go around so we don’t have to fight for what we want. Alan Cohen summarizes this point, “Only those who ask for more can get more and only those who know there is more, ask.”
- Follow the advice of Barbara De Angelis, “You can’t ask for what you want unless you know what it is. A lot of people don’t know what they want or they want much less than they deserve. First you have figure out what you want. Second, you have to decide that you deserve it. Third, you have to believe you can get it. And, fourth, you have to have the guts to ask for it.”
- Explain your need and desire for help. Make a request, not a demand. Make them understand why you need what you are asking for. A request for help without a reason is likely to fall flat on its face.
- Accept refusals graciously. Thank them for their consideration. Don’t sulk. As the Russians say, “Ask a lot, but take what is offered.” Show gratitude when they help; show understanding when they don’t.
- Don’t try to get what you want by manipulation. Don’t try to make the other party feel guilty for refusing.
- Don’t ask others to do what you can do without their help. Show some initiative.
- Don’t ask for advice or suggestions if all you want is to have someone agree with your preconceptions.
- Be creative: “A clever, imaginative, humorous request can open closed doors and closed minds.” (Percy Ross)
- Don’t make unreasonable requests. Don’t ask someone to do what you are not willing to do for them.
- Before asking, write it down. Writing it down helps you to focus, clarify your needs, and consider possible objections and how to answer them.
- Don’t ask God, unless you believe He is Santa Claus. God helps those who help themselves. Save your prayers for prayers of thanksgiving.
- Don’t be vague. For example, don’t tell your coworker she isn’t cooperative enough, but be precise in explaining what you need. For example, “Mary, I need you to come to the meetings on time. And the Month’s End Report must be completed by the 27th of each month. Whenever a problem occurs, tell me about it immediately so we can resolve the difficulty and meet our deadlines.”
- Many married couples or close friends expect their mate or friend to be a mind reader. Don’t fall into this trap. Others are not aware of what is going on inside your head or the emotions you are experiencing. Thoughts such as, “If he really loved me, he would know how I feel” are sheer fantasy. You are capable of an infinite range of desires, thoughts, and feelings. Even the Amazing Kreskin won’t be able to decipher them unless you reveal them. So, don’t hide your thoughts, but share them by asking for what you want.
- Remain committed to your goals and don’t get discouraged when your requests for help are turned down. You will never lose if you never quit. Just keep trying. The stakes are high and your efforts will be rewarded, sometimes in ways that are not immediately obvious.
- Start asking today. You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.
- Carefully choose who to ask; ask the right people, the ones who have the power to help you. And keep in mind Brian Tracy‘s words, “Successful people are always looking for opportunities to help others. Unsuccessful people are always asking, ‘What’s in it for me?’“
- Ask for help, but not for permission to do what’s best for you. “When you ask permission, you give someone veto power over your life.” (Albert F. Geoffrey)
- We often get less than what we ask for, so don’t downplay your value, ask for what you deserve. After all, if you ask for little, you are apt to get less. Or as Jim Rohn said, “Make sure you don’t go to the ocean with a teaspoon. At least take a bucket…”
- Don’t be ashamed to ask and don’t be crushed if you are refused.
- When you build relationships; get along with others, and cheerfully help those in need you are building a foundation or network that will one day come to your aid when and if you need it. But don’t use this fact as the reason to help others; help them because it is the right thing to do.
- People are basically good and willing to help when they can, so ask with confidence. Just by being confident you will increase the odds of getting what you want.
- As a certain amount of courage is necessary to ask for what you want, practice regularly to develop your courage. You can start off with simple requests, such as by asking someone to pass the salt, mind your seat, tell you the time, or give you directions. Keep practicing until asking for what you want becomes perfectly comfortable and natural.
- There’s nothing wrong with asking more than once and asking more than one person. As someone once said, The key to getting everything you want is to never put all your begs in one ask-it!
The major responsibility of human beings is to help one another, so don’t neglect the needs and desires of your family, relatives, friends, co-workers, and anyone you meet. When you see someone in trouble, don’t ask if there is something you can do. Rather, immediately take decisive action and help in any way you can.
Asking for what you want doesn’t mean you will get everything you ask for. But it does mean you will get more of it. Imagine how much better our lives can be just by asking for what we want.
TAKE THIS BOOK TO WORK: How to Ask for (and Get) Money, Fulfillment, and Advancement by Tory Johnson and Robyn Spizman.
Ask for the Moon and Get It by Percy Ross and Dick Samson