A few months ago, on a very beautiful day, I came across the Ted Talk video named ‘The Art of Asking’ by Amanda Palmer on YouTube. I was totally bowled by the beauty of the idea. Once she had to paint her face, stand still, look deep into the eyes of the passers-by and offer flower to them to pay her bills. She says that she cherished the short but deep contact she made with people while working as a living statue on streets. Since then whenever she has asked for help, people have offered it to her with much warmth and love. The connection that she built with other humans made her master the ‘art of asking’.
We have always heard that in this world you need to fight to get your due. Phrases like nothing comes easy, you snatch the opportunity, world is waiting to pull you down are the common ones. But most of them are echo of the ego and preconceived notions we foster within. Even before getting up to ask, we burden our minds with all sorts of negative possibilities. In reality a majority among us are kind and helping. Just think about yourself, what do we do when someone asks to show the way to some place, or to help with some task in office? We offer help. We are inherently good at heart. People generally help people.
People help people. Examples of asking and receiving help from day to day life:
Very recently an office colleague shared this incident with me.
While she was starving during lunch time and waiting in a queue to order meal, she politely said these few lines to the person standing just before her in the queue- “Excuse me, I didn’t have my breakfast this morning and I am starving, can I expect a little charity from you, please.” And the person let her order food first.
Such is the power of asking for help. It works most of the times. A yet more powerful incident about asking for help happened to a friend named Bhavikk. He describes it this way-
Being in Stock market business, valuation becomes important for us and sometimes, you wonder how a stock trade at such absurd valuation. I faced a similar ambiguity when a QSR company came up with a public issue and as an analyst I was given the task to value this company. My valuation was much lower than the issue price and accordingly we decided not to invest. But on listing, the price soared up by 45 percent on the very first day and then it kept rising. I was bewildered. I questioned myself, where did I go wrong. I revisited my calculations and was stuck with the same. There was something I was missing which I had no idea about.
As I work at BSE, (the prominent and iconic building in Mumbai) I could fortunately meet a veteran investor who had invested in that QSR issue. So, I thought of asking him about his opinion on that stock. He was a great investor with portfolio of billions, surrounded by his bodyguards.
He had been always portrayed as an immensely rude and arrogant man. Although I was a bit apprehensive about asking for his suggestions, I gathered all my guts and went to him. I greeted him with a hello and he responded politely. Then I said, “Sir, can I ask you one thing?” And to my utter surprise he said yes and discussed with me my doubts and problems. He was surprisingly very polite and humble which was totally in contrast with what was said about him. He shared with me the true metrics of valuation and his rationale behind his investment in that stock and then I recalculated my excel and Viola! This was it, and all credit goes to that great man who readily shared his valuable thoughts and ideas with a beginner. That day I realized that there is no harm in asking for help and nothing to be ashamed of when you are confused or when you want answers. Even Lord Krishna had helped Arjuna by being his charioteer in the battle of Mahabharata and gave him lessons on Karma after being asked for.
If I revisit my life, I see those numerous people who have helped me in thousands of different ways. I know you would find the same thing in your life too. Despite this, why are we hesitant to ask for help most of the times?
Most of us hesitate to ask for help due to the dread of hearing a no. We hate rejections and we concentrate upon the outcomes and not in the cause. For a many of us, our sense of self-esteem depends upon how others treat us and if someone refuses to help, it shatters our ego and self-pride.
I know it’s not easy for everyone to ask for help from others. It had been the same for me until I learnt that I had to change some of my predominant beliefs and value my goals or my cause more than my ego.
Hence, I come up with the three step formula to skill the art of asking–
1. Know and believe that people are inherently good.
If you look around, you would find that a majority of the human population supports good and wishes to be just and kind. Most us revert harshly or behave rudely because of our own fear of being mistreated and lack of trust upon others. We believe that we won’t get help at the time of need and hence, we do not help others. If you see someone who is not helpful every time you ask for help, you can infer that the person is fighting from his/her own inner insecurities and negative belief system. If you belong to the same category of people, it’s time for you to get rid of such negative beliefs and be more friendly and helpful. After you believe that we are all humans, good at heart (except a few still struggling with their insecurities) you will find it easy to ask for help and also to raise a helping hand for other s who seek you in need.
2. Value your goals more than your ego.
The big nose of ego has always blurred our vision. It keeps us from ignoring petty things and focussing unfailingly upon our greater goals of life. Think of a situation where you could not reach out to someone for help just because a no could have hurt your mighty ego. Do you realize that at any such circumstance it was you who lost it while trying to satisfy your self pride and ego? The reason or problem or goal you sought help for gets a delayed solution or is never entertained ever. Think what could you have lost if you just simply asked for help. Maybe you get to hear just a big no in some cases but during the rest of times you will receive what you wished to. The chances of goal fulfillment and problems getting solved simply enhances from 0 to 1:2 just by shirking your ego and primarily valuing the cause you are seeking help for.
3. Don’t take refusals at heart. Ask again.
The two methods stated above will help you to think more rationally and seek practically for help than being emotional about it. If you believe that there are people who are really good and are actually ready to help you and also if you value your goals and reasons for seeking help more than anything else, you would not get emotional about the refusals. If you get to hear a no from one, you would try to ask for help from someone else until you find the solution or get the help.
I hope you will find this three step method to easily ask for help a beneficial one. I promise that this shall help you if you implement this as it has helped me.
Asking for help is good. Those who ask are willing to accept a no, a failure. They are ready to give it a try. And this what separates achievers from dreamers.