Earlier this week I had a meeting with the President of a social club I belong to discuss a project which I will be involved in starting September. The project sounds great and it is a great opportunity for my business to grow. We were in the middle of this discussion, she had something that was at the tip of her tongue but hesitated. She paused and looked away and then she looked to me again then quietly mentioned: “I better not ask”.
I was curious and I also wanted to make sure that I have addressed all her concerns. I encouraged her to speak her mind so we can openly discuss all the issues and iron out all the areas of opportunity. As it turns out, she wanted to ask if I could be the person in charge of this project and coordinate with resources and execute orders. She was afraid to ask me because she felt I may not want to do this and I might feel this is too much of a burden. Simple words, she was afraid that I would say “No”.
Have you ever had this type of experience? Have you ever been afraid to speak up or have your voices heard because you are simply afraid of how the person might respond and react?
Let me share a personal story with you.
A couple of years ago, I decided I was going to travel aboard alone. Some of you who have been following me for a while, you probably know about my story hiking up to Machu Picchu. But in addition to that hiking trip, the following year, I traveled to Cambodia alone. It was a mission trip. Not of a religious mission trip but rather a mission to volunteer aboard in preparation for my lifelong goal of helping children of refuge. I found an organization that would host volunteers and placement to Cambodia local organizations. Next, I book my flight, applied for a visa, packed my bags and before I know it I was at the airport.
It was scary! I did not know anybody, I don’t speak their language and I was there alone with a big suitcase. What do I do? How do I get on the bus? How do I get through those stairs? How do I tackle with one arm crutches and one arm suitcase?
Here’s what I have learned to do: ASK.
Ask for help. Ask someone to translate for you. Ask the person standing next to me for help. What I have learned through the years of my struggle as a person living with a physical challenge is that we need to start asking for what we want so others can see us better. This is about vulnerability, it is also about allowing others to share their love and compassion to us.
What does this all mean?
If you are struggling with your business, ask. Ask someone to help you grow your business. Ask them for ideas, for resources, for people they know who can help you to grow your business. You need to ask for what you want. If you need help working on a project, ask. Ask your friends whom you may not have heard from a long time. If you are having a bad day and really need someone to talk to, ask. Ask your friend to see if they can jump on a call with you to help you gain some clarity around things you are stuck on. If you are wondering if you should ask that guy or that girl out, ask. Ask he or she to have a cup of coffee with you. Go get some smoothie. But, as simple as it sounds, we don’t normally do that. Do we?
We are afraid of being vulnerable, we are afraid someone says “No”.
We are afraid what we are asking is too much. We are afraid of becoming someone else’s burden or an inconvenience.
So what? So what if the other person says No? So what if no one wants to help you? Either way, it’s fine. But you simply did you diligence by asking. Allowing others to see your vulnerability is not a form of weakness but the strength you have in finding a way to new possibility. And what if they say YES? What would be different for you now?