Great Things Come From Asking

The ditch that runs alongside every road to great things is neglecting your “ask.” We tend not to ask for help when we need to. Why? We assume our competence depends on us alone. We don’t want to impose on others. We accept the message that we “should” be able to do it on our own. Too many competing demands make it hard to pause long enough to even know what to ask. 

Goals. Priorities. Dreams. Resources. Plans. These are words that describe what we need to achieve great things, from caring well for the people you love to the novel idea that changes the world.

Without the skill of “asking” your great things will be confined to what you can do on your own. 

Asking for the help you need is a necessary competency to do great things. Research says it is linked to your success. Scripture (John 14:12-14) indicates our willingness to ask God for what we need is directly linked to receiving what we ask for. 

I remember that morning sitting at my computer, fingers on the keys, staring at an unsent email message. I hesitated. I did, however, ultimately decide to press “send” and make my ask. I didn’t know at the time, odds were against me, whether I’d receive a positive response. Research indicates that you are 34 times more likely to get a “yes” when you ask face to face rather than in an email. Yet, within an hour I had a response to my email and within 3 days I had a face-to-face conversation to get the help I had requested. 

What if I had closed that email window and never asked? The help I received four years ago set me on the trajectory to do what I love every single day. So, how do you develop the skill of “asking”?

  1. Make your “ask” specific, meaningful and action-oriented. Think it through. Write it down. Practice on a friend. If people don’t know what we need, they can’t help us. Even if they can’t help us they may be able to introduce us to someone else who can.
  2. Ask face to face whenever possible. Though email may seem easier, research (link) shows it tends to be less likely to get a response.  
  3. When in doubt, do it anyway. We underestimate people’s willingness and ability to help us. Gallup says roughly 2.2 billion people help a stranger every month.
  4. Listen for common interests.  People are more likely to help when reciprocity is on the table. It’s not only about what is in it for you, it’s also what is in it for them.
  5. Start with a small “circle”. Start with who you know. When that group can’t meet your “ask” they may be able to help uncover unknown resources that can.  

Asking and receiving help builds social connections and creates a bond. Reciprocity and paying it forward makes the world a better place. It’s a tangible way to achieve great things.

Next Steps

  1. If you like the idea of a small circle, check out more information on a framework to do this as a “reciprocity circle”.
  2. Glean from the wisdom of a leader that has learned the power of investing in relationships as the key to resourcing mission in this podcast episode. Tune in on Apple, Spotify or Google.
  3. Get started…where will you start with your “ask”? Decide what you will do and when you will do it.

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Annie Perdue Olson

Annie is founder of Leading Better Together, guiding leaders through the relationship and people challenges that sidetrack ministry. With 20+ years of experience in nonprofit management and pastoral ministry she equips people and teams to work better together. She holds a Master of Arts in Human Resources and Change Leadership from St. Thomas University and received her coaching certification from the Center of Coaching Excellence.

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