When my niece was little she sat at her father’s feet while she was drawing and he was reading the newspaper. She was so excited about her beautiful creation that she held up the paper and asked, “Look Daddy. Look at my picture!”
Her father, without moving his gaze from the newspaper replied, “Yes dear, that’s very nice.”
Disappointed, she went back to her crayons. A few minutes later she tried again, a bit more forcefully, “Look Daddy. Look at my pretty picture!”
With his attention still fixed on the newspaper, he again replied, “That’s great, honey!”
But this time she took a different approach. Leaping up on her little legs, she held her artwork above her head and yelled, “HEY! I need a father down here!”
My niece has never hesitated to ask for what she wants!
Why We Don’t Ask for What We Want
My grandfather used to say, “If you don’t ask, you don’t get.” Boy, that is the truth! Too many of us would rather suffer in silence than have our needs met. Perhaps we think it’s saintly to do so. Maybe we:
- assume people (especially those closest to us) should know what we want. Do we think they can read our minds? Are we waiting for them to notice the sacrifices we’re making?
- believe it’s selfish to ask for what we want. Do we assume it’s not polite to assert ourselves? Are we worried people might think we’re only concerned with our own needs?
- think we’ll keep someone else from getting what they want. Mistakenly, that perspective is a zero sum game — all about winners or losers. Just because our wishes are met doesn’t mean others will go without.
4 Reasons to Ask for What You Want
Nobody likes to be around someone who sees themselves as a victim, especially those who wear that role habitually. And too many of those with a victim mindset hope to gain more attention by NOT going after what they want. Here’s why we should ask for what we want:
- It takes skill to negotiate in our own favor. We learn how to accept what we’re due. We also learn how to compromise, create work-arounds or postpone gratification for another day. But at least we’ve been heard.
- To ask for what you want reinforces the mindset that you’re worth it. Why shouldn’t it be you who gets what you deserve?
- To actively pursue and get what you want builds confidence that you can make things happen. Far better to be in the game of fulfilling your needs than to sit by the sidelines unwilling to put in the effort.
- Ultimately, human beings are motivated by self-interest. It’s the fuel that has inspired discoveries of efficiency, production, governance and innovation. And, in the act of seeking out solutions for our own desires we may also meet the needs of others. (A bonus!)
So go for it! Make a list of the things you’ve always wanted but hesitated to ask for — help developing skills, gaining resources or seeking support. Then, apply my grandfather’s wisdom: if you don’t ask, you don’t get!
The Dip: a little book that teaches you when to quit (and when to stick) by Seth Godin. I usually have trouble sticking with Seth Godin’s writing, but I really enjoyed this book. From the front flap: “…what really sets superstars apart from everyone else is the ability to escape dead ends quickly while staying focused and motivated when it really counts. Winners quit fast, quit often, and quit without guilt — until they commit to bearing the right Dip for the right reasons…this fun little book will help you figure out if you’re in a Dip that’s worthy of your time, effort, and talents.”
Humorous and Inspiring Quotes
“If you set your goals ridiculously high and it’s a failure, you will fail above everyone else’s success.” —James Cameron, filmmaker
“Before you marry a person, you should first make them use a computer with slow Internet service to see who they really are.” —Will Ferrell
“Never go to bed mad. Stay up and fight.” —Phyllis Diller
“Instead of getting married again, I’m going to find a woman I don’t like and give her a house.” —Rod Stewart
“Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.” —Terry Pratchett, author