Brought up in a family where asking was not considered to be a positive trait, I never developed the habit of asking. There is a saying in my language on asking and my mom told it to me ample times in my growing years. It says, “Bin mange moti mile, mange mile na bheekh.” This means – “Without asking, you get pearls; and if you ask, you do not even gels alms. “
First 32 years of my life, I embodied this principle. I practiced it during my appraisals as well in my personal relationships. I would expect that my boss would recognize the effort I had put in, and reward me accordingly. Fortunately, it did not take me long to realise that world did not work this way. But unfortunately, it was a huge effort to bring in this change. I knew it had to be done. But there was a huge gap in “knowing” and “doing”.
Few reasons this change was difficult for me-
1. It was deep in my upbringing that asking is not good. It depicts self-centricity.
2. It appeared against the notion of “Karma”, the concept that our actions decide our fate. As per Hindu mythology, one is supposed to focus on Karma and leave the rest to God. If Karma is good, things fall in place.
3. Fear to hear a “no”.
4. Somewhere maybe, I felt that asking made me inferior to the other person.
5. I felt asking someone for something was bothering them.
6. And of course, asking was out of my comfort zone. It was different from the way I had done things all my life.
The beginning of change:
Over a period of time I realized the following-
1. When people asked me for something, I responded positively. This made me feel that there have to be more people like me.
2. Asking is about making people aware that they can help you. A lot of times they are not even aware.
3. People generally like to help others as this makes them feel good about themselves.
4. I heard Steve Jobs saying that he asked people all his life and he rarely got a “no”, even when he was a “nobody”.
Two things changed me completely-
1. My four years old daughter – At least 10 times in a day she asks me for things I don’t expect myself to agree to. But when she asks, I relent a lot of times. At those times, I can see it on her face that she really did not expect me to say yes. She reconfirms if she has been granted her wish. At times when I do not relent and give her a stern look, she says, “I am only asking mumma”. The unsaid part being, “You can say no if you do not want me to do this.” Come to think of it, kids get maximum “no” from us; still they do not get dejected. They ask and ask and ask. As we grow up, we take these rejections as “personal” and develop all inhibitions.
2. Rejection Therapy – Jia Jing was dejected as he got rejected by every VC he went to. He was almost at the point of giving in, when the idea struck him. He went on a 100-day rejection therapy. He decided that he would ask people for crazy things, get endless rejection and develop immunity to the negativity attached to rejection. He asked people for things he would expect a no. Like asking a cop to drive his car, or asking a stranger if he could play soccer in his backyard. What he realised was that people started saying “yes”. He heard “yes” from places he expected least. Below is his video on “Ted”.
This all inspired me to take the path of asking. Being an entrepreneur asking is indeed important for me.
Status as of now-
In last week of December 2013, I wrote my goals and mini-goals for 2014. In front of each mini-goal, I wrote name of people who could help me in achieving the goal. I reached out to those people and explained my goals. I told them how they could help me in my journey. And no prize to guess, all of them supported me. I have already started seeing the results of their support.
So, all you people out there who are like “old me”, leave your inhibitions and ask people for help. When you write your success story, when you talk from the podium you need people to be thanked. Give people a chance to be a part of your success. They would be thankful to you as well.