Last winter, my friend Gigi told me a funny story about the time she moved to Brooklyn in her early twenties.
She was living in Ithaca, a small town about four hours upstate, and she was all excited to try to make it as a singer with her band in New York. Two days before she moved, though, she realized something relatively important: she didn't have any moving boxes. (Sometimes these things slip our minds, don’t they?) She didn't want to buy any, since she imagined they were prohibitively expensive, and she was broke. So she asked her roommate, Chris, if he had any.
"No," he said, "but let's go find some."
They walked downtown and started asking around. One person they asked, a guitarist playing Beatles songs on a street corner, suggested they ask at the liquor store. There, the manager there gave them a few Heineken boxes. Then he gestured to the shipping store across the street.
"They sell boxes," he said. "You can get all you want there."
So they went into the shipping store, but instead of stopping at the displays of boxes for sale, Chris walked right up to the manager.
"Hi," he said. "Do you have any boxes we can have?"
Gigi started to tell him no, they SELL boxes here, we have to BUY them – but something stopped her. Maybe it was the manager saying "Yeah, sure. Give me a sec." He disappeared into a back room, and then emerged with an armful of boxes, which he gave to them - for free.
As they carried their free boxes out of the box store, Gigi marveled. "How did you think to ask that?" she said.
He shrugged. "I dunno," he said. "I figured, why not? They probably have boxes they aren't using, like any business."
As she told me that, I couldn’t help but laugh – and then marvel at the wisdom in Chris’s reasoning. I’m willing to bet that most people don’t go into a store and ask for things for free. But look what happened when he did!
How often do we fail to ask for exactly what we want?
Maybe it’s because we're afraid of getting a "no.” Or because we're shy or scared or uncertain. Or – like Gigi – because it doesn't even occur to us to ask.
Sometimes, being super direct can get you the results you want.
What if you were to ask for what you want, right now? Who would you ask? What would you ask for?
Since hearing this story, I’ve encouraged my clients to do this, and they’ve gotten some pretty stellar results.
Tasha, a cosmetic surgeon who wanted her husband to spend more time with her, stopped trying to get him to go to therapy, and instead asked him to turn off the TV and talk. He did.
Ben, a video game designer who’d been hoping his boss would give him a promotion, finally stopped angling for it and just straight-up asked. He got a promotion, and the big fat raise that came with it.
Eve, a marketing consultant who’d been waiting for her boyfriend to propose to her, proposed to him instead. They’re getting married next Christmas.
Sure, in some cases, it might be strange or uncomfortable or even laughable to be so direct. (Can you imagine walking into a store and asking for what they’re selling for free?)
But often, that directness, that boldness, that strangeness even, will be met with admiration, surprise - and maybe even a yes.
The all-important first step
The first step here is, of course, to know what it is that you want. In the case of Gigi’s needing moving boxes, that was simple: boxes. For Tasha, it took a little digging to identify her wants, because at first, it was buried under things like I’m so annoyed with him! and What am I doing wrong?
So often, we complicate things. We aim for D when really we want F, thinking that D is the first step, THEN we can go to F, and so on.
But what if we jumped straight to F?
I encourage you to bring up an area in your life where you’re struggling. Is it in your relationships, your health, your business?
What would you ask for, if you could bypass all the in-between steps and just ask for the one thing you really want?
Sometimes, one thing we want is something a little more abstract: peace, happiness, contentment, hope, faith. Those can be powerful things to ask for, too. If you believe in a higher power, go ahead and ask directly for those things. And then keep an eye out for how they start to show up.
This is a useful first step because it helps us not only prepare to ask, but also it can bring us clarity. It can be extremely helpful just to identify that thing we want.
And then, of course, you just might get it.
Want more guidance and perspective-shifting like this? I’ve got a Summer Special going on right now – for first-time clients, you can get your first sessions half-off! Email me to set up your next coaching session!
Go out, ask for what you want, and shine.
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