One of the most important skills of a good dad is learning how to ask for help. As guys, we are really bad at asking for help. At least I was. We are good at trying to do things on our own, the hard way.
I’ve always tried to make it a game of asking for things like someone throwing me a giant birthday party for charity or a month of free travel around New Zealand. But when it came to things that really mattered – like emotional support – I wasn’t very good as asking.
Then I read this great book by Amanda Palmer called the Art of Asking. She learned to be good at asking by being a street performer. Then she became the first musician to break $1 million in a Kickstarter campaign.
Then I ran a Publishizer campaign for my book . I got over 250 people to support me, and didn’t give up, and now I have a publishing contract. I had to call and talk to and ask over 400 people to support me to make that happen.
When I learned I was becoming a father unexpectedly, the first thing I had to learn to do was ask for help. I realized that I should not try to go it alone, nor should I. I asked all the men in my life for help and advice. Will all kinds of support, I was able to quickly feel confident and excited about the situation rather than dreadful and overwhelmed.
The thing about asking is that you are telling the universe that you are ready to receive what you desire.
We just finished a road trip from our home in Croatia up to Slovenia and the Austrian Alps. Our final three days of the trip we spent at a five star hotel in a castle . I asked if they would host us there in exchange for me featuring them on my Instagram and Podcast, and they said yes.
But I still had to know what I wanted and ask for it.
I met a woman who owned a different castle. She was being driven around in a battery-operated version of Cinderella’s chariot. I asked if I could drive it around the streets of Ljubljana but she said no. She did invite me to visit her at her castle though.
You have to be ok with getting a no. No lives in the land of yes. If I ask my wife for a massage, and she says no, she is too tired, I have to be ok with that.
I have been trying this myself. The right amount of challenge is that is awesome, but I don’t even know if I am allowed to ask, or expect to get a no.
In Slovenia, I made another friend who owned a third castle (yes, lots of castles in Slovenia) She had a room full of medieval weaponry and suits of armor. I asked if I could try them on and she said yes.
I asked if I could borrow my friend’s fancy camera for our trip. She said yes.
I asked my partner Heidi if we could take a quick side trip to an interesting phenomenon along the border, she said no.
Then, I asked if we could stop on our road trip and hike to the top of a butte, and she said yes.
Being good at asking comes in handy when I am talking to a potential new business coaching client. I have to ask them if they want to work with me (and I have to be ok with their answer).
I also learned that you can ask in better ways. Say, “Will you do X” instead of “Can you”? Then you go to the land of concrete action.
Most people don’t ask because they don’t come up with what they want in the first place. Or they think they are being polite by not asking. Or they think that what they want is reserved for someone else. Or because they don’t want to trouble anyone to make extra effort. Or because they think it is strong not to ask. Or because it takes courage. You can come up with a good counter argument for any of these.
For me the biggest barrier is getting up the courage to ask for something. Putting yourself out there is scary! But courage is a muscle and when you practice it, you create a new identity as someone who does brave things. And people who do brave things get to experience a fullness of life that others simply hope for.
So I challenge you: ask for something that you normally wouldn’t. It doesn’t even have to matter, but it will matter later when you ask and get the exact thing you want. Maybe I’ll ask for someone to donate a castle to my adventure charity. Do you know who I should talk to about that?
Feature photo provided by the author.