I recently saw a short video of Steve Jobs that was going around LinkedIn. Jobs said most people don’t get what they want because they never ask. He said that asking was the basis of his own success, and it is what separates the people who do things from those who just dream about them.
This made me think about an acronym I use with my clients:
GOBOM: Get Off your Butt and Open your Mouth.
Whether it is looking for a job, wanting a raise, reaching for a goal, needing support or companionship or what have you, if you hope to succeed, you must get out there and let people know what you’re up to. They can’t help if they don’t know you need it.
Why we don’t ask
Fear of failure and fear of rejection are two big stops to GOBOM. Fear of failure is a survival instinct; it keeps us in our safety/comfort zone. See it for what it is and you can diminish its impact. Moving through it builds the strength needed for future success. Allowing it to stop you makes an existing lack of personal power even weaker.
“To make your comfort zone bigger, you must get out of it.” –Don Durkee
Fear of rejection stems from self-doubt, another sign of insufficient personal power. Not everyone will say yes. If you can’t face the no, you have work to do to increase inner authority.
Furthermore, we live in shame-based society. Turn on the news and you see much ridicule, blame, condemnation, and criticism for every little thing. (Someone didn’t wear the right outfit! Oh, my!) The fear of feeling shame is another big reason we don’t ask. To be effective in life, you must get to the point where what other people think about you doesn’t stop you from being true to yourself.
Why the ask is rejected
How we ask is as important as the ask itself. There are ways we inadvertently interfere with results. Lack of confidence in ourselves or our request will energetically convey to the recipient. Fear comes across as defensiveness, neediness, or deceitfulness, which sound like demanding, begging, or dishonesty. These cause others to feel manipulated, even if unconsciously, which results in resistance.
Confidence, on the other hand, conveys power and trustworthiness. This significantly increases the chances of getting a yes, because it speaks directly to the generosity of others.
“Certainty sells.” –Dave Buck
Sometimes our ask doesn’t achieve the expected result because generosity, like any power, can be misused. Things to watch out for:
- Codependence – sometimes people give too much: giving unreasonably more than you asked for or need, or giving what you don’t need or didn’t request.
- Greed – sometimes people, from their own pain and self-doubt, withhold help. They hoard generosity.
Most people want to help. The desire to contribute to others is an essential part of our human design. I call this the Power of Generosity. Why do disasters such as a hurricane or 9/11 bring communities together so powerfully? Because we are wired to help, and in difficult times, the need for help is urgent so the desire to assist magnifies. Once the crisis passes, we go back to our normal lives because the urgency has subsided. In normal life, many still find ways to give to others on a regular, if not daily, basis. Thus, most people respond positively to a request for assistance.
GOBOM: a winning strategy
- Be visible. You have to get out of the house, or at least get on the phone, to be in front of others who can help you.
- Be transparent. Ask honestly and confidently. People want to help, but they can’t if they don’t know you need something. Don’t expect them to read your mind.
- Be active. Take action on the assistance you do get. Otherwise it wasn’t a real ask, it was just the dream Jobs spoke about. And you risk losing out on future requests if people see your inaction.
- Be resilient. When met with “No,” shore up your determination, and repeat after me, “Next!”
(If you’re interested in the Jobs video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jc6EiAsKGM0&t=17s)