Ask and you shall receive…maybe
We’ve all heard it so often and so much that chances are we haven’t really given the phrase a whole lot of deep, philosophical consideration. But maybe, just maybe that’s why most of us have a list of wants that could choke a horse. We want a bigger house, a better job, more money in the account, cooler friends, more exciting vacations and worthier relationships. We’re focused on what we lack instead of all we long for. But I’ve been noticing with amused interest lately the profound power and dare I say impressive results that can be had when people simply ask for what they want.
Now let me be sure to throw out that one of Greg’s more ardent and irresistible lessons to people is that “the answer to every question you don’t ask is No.” This simple assertion can rock our world if we allow it to. Greg is, most assuredly, stating the obvious but still we continue to conduct ourselves as though we are unaware of this unavoidable reality. Yet his direct declaration leaves us little choice but to acknowledge the error of our ways. The grave error we are all lamentably guilty of is that we just don’t ask. So it continues to vex me that while this equation is irritatingly obvious we still, as general rule, do not venture to ask for what we want. Now there are two parts to the effort of asking for what you want. One is the boldness and daring resolve it takes to make your request known and have it heard. The other is that repeatedly we are called upon to EARN the yes. So the questions become, are we willing to ask? And perhaps more importantly are we willing to earn it?
There can be no doubt that the best example of this philosophy in action is kids. They have a wonderful habit of simply, unabashedly asking for what they want. In fact, they are so naturally and instinctively adept at this that the notion of NOT asking is utterly baffling to them. Inquire with any parent who has been driven to the point of beleaguered surrender by a child in a retail establishment of any kind. They will ask, cajole, coax and unashamedly beg for anything from toys to tic tacs until they emerge victorious. The fact that their victory comes at the price of our sanity and self-respect is another matter entirely.
Now we could assert that kids just lack a filter for what’s appropriate and that similar behavior in us grown up folk would vary from rude to preposterous to a reason to call the authorities. But when we grow up, so too should our expertise at the art of a request. The fact of the matter remains it is a miserable shame that we outgrow the instinct to ask for what we want. I would also contend that we are obligated to stop resenting the world and those around us because we don’t have what we want. It’s only and ever been up to us. We need to grow into, not out of the ability to speak up about our heart’s desire. Now when I espouse the virtues of asking, this is not meant as encouragement to look to the heavens and implore God to arrange a winning lottery ticket. What I am advocating for is asking for the relationships you want. Asking for the job you’d love or the deal you’re itching to knock down. Asking for the moments you crave, the surroundings you long for and the accomplishments you aspire to.
Now the next part. Earn it. None of us should have the audacity to ask for something we aren’t willing to earn. If we want the job, we need to earn the skills. If we want the success we better earn our reputation. If we want to awaken to the rhythmic thunder of waves crashing on the shore every morning are we willing to earn that magnificent rumble? If we want astonishing relationships are we willing to be the person that deserves them? If we want a life built out of moments that take our breath away, will we be devoted enough to our extraordinary vision to earn it? For as much as we need to learn how to ask we too must be willing to deserve our desire.
Our oldest daughter Everest has a school dance coming up. It’s basically a girls ask guys affair and to say that Everest is lacking enthusiasm would be an understatement of monumental proportions. Rightly or wrongly, Everest is less than impressed with guys her age. She has always been an old soul and is drawn to a no-nonsense demeanor of humble integrity with a side order of self-assured swagger. To her way of thinking guys her age are more preoccupied with impressing others than they are with actually BEING impressive. So her solution was to ask a fantastically outrageous question. Her favorite music hails from the 60’s and 70’s and right now her group is The Monkees. Yes, The Monkees. So she proceeds to pen the most articulate, persuasive letter imaginable to send to Mike Nesmith of the Monkees, requesting that he come to Tucson and join her at the dance. No joke. She explained her predicament and voiced expertly her reasons for requesting his very specific company. She expressed her appreciation for what she perceived his personality and character to be as well as her genuine desire to hear a music legend tell his tales. She even went so far as to include local hotel accommodation options and a proposed flight itinerary in order to make it as convenient as possible for him to actually say yes. In one act of insane audacity she was both asking the question and doing everything within her power to earn a yes. It is the most exceptionally outlandish thing I have seen someone do in a very long time. And it made me wonder on when was the last time I did something that unabashedly daring. Leave it to a fifteen year old to remind me of what it looks like to be fearless.
So today, choose your adventure. Dress yourself in the armor of bravery and intrepid resolve. Dare to ask for what you want; risking the sting of a “No” while earning the triumph of your “Yes.” None of us has ever died from disappointment so the consequences of asking aren’t as dire as we often imagine them to be. There is a Lance Armstrong quote that comes to mind. “Pain is temporary. Quitting lasts forever.” The pain of a “No” will quickly subside. Quitting on the vision of what you want will chain itself to your soul forever. So ask, earn, and remember that you are, and always have been, worthy of claiming what it is you want.