Incite by Design

Caustic visions and shared thoughts on design, marketing, creativity, philanthropy, pop culture and business philosophy by Toronto design firm, Ricksticks Inc.

2005-01-18

Learning How to Ask and Receive

One of the hardest things for any of us to do in life is to ask for help. This is especially true in business where we are supposed to be a pillar of self-sufficiency and unmitigated triumph. We want our clients and peers to see us as indispensable. We want our friends and family to know that everything is going wonderfully and business is always streaming in.

We live in one of the wealthiest nations in the world, and yet, so many of us are mired in a "hoarding mentality," terrified that we will lose our abundance. In turn, we create a form of spiritual poverty that permeates everything we touch.

As in our personal life, there are highs and lows that we all face running a business or a freelance enterprise. Our ability to know when to ask for help - be it in the form of leads or referrals - is crucial when the bills are piled high. But the ability to ask is far more important than just a temporary life preserve.

Reaching out to others is an exercise in personal development.

I've found the best leaders are those who have struggled in some capacity - sought help - and showed tremendous gratitude in their continued path. In learning how to ask for assistance, humility is cultivated, yes, but also the important lesson of learning how to accept with an open heart and mind.

[One of the most amazing qualities about a former boss of mine was her ability to really receive and appreciate compliments. Her reaction made everyone around her feel good, as if they had received the compliment, too.]

In my former life as a fundraiser, the biggest challenge was not to develop new funding sources - it was convincing the leaders that it is necessary to make the ask. I conducted a major gift solicitation at an organisation that had never considered this before - thinking it would be impossible. And yet, while some donors turned us down, many were more than happy to be give the amount requested. They even went so far as to say, "I've been wanting to do more, but was never asked."

We spend a lot of time thinking (and talking) about new, innovative approaches to gaining new clients and retaining old. And while there will always be a need for this, sometimes we forget to just simply connect and ask. When is the last time you called a colleague and asked for a referral? How about a client?

We all know the worst that can happen ... And we can recover from a "no."

Nurture a habit of reciprocal growth and be the first to take the chance on mutually beneficial give-and-take.
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