Nothing Ventured…

If you don’t ask, you’ll never get to that yes.

I know so many people who are afraid to ask for anything. They don’t want to appear needy. They don’t want to rock the boat. They don’t want to inconvenience anyone. They don’t feel worthy. They’re afraid of what might happen.

Here’s what might happen: the person you ask might say no. But that person might just as easily say yes. Until you ask, you’ll never know. And if you don’t ask, I guarantee that you’ll never get to that yes. Ever.

I tend to speak up, at least when it occurs to me. And I admit that the no’s come at me like boulders in a mudslide, but every once in a while there’s a wonderful, exciting, delightful yes. And that yes makes it all worth it.

I genuinely believe that there are no self-made Men. There are simply those who have learned how to ask for help. They will always get much farther ahead than those who never do.

Nothing ventured, nothing gained.


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Try Listening

I know a guy who talks so much that people actually scatter when they see him coming. He’s a nice guy. He means well. But he can suck, literally, hours out of your life as he holds forth on whatever he has chosen to blather on about on that particular day. And you’re expected to just stand there and say, “Uh huh.”

I doubt, even after all this time, that he knows much of anything about me. I can’t get a word in edgewise. And he doesn’t seem the least bit curious about anyone else. He never asks questions.

I think this is really sad. I personally would be bored silly if the only topic I was willing to discuss was me, me, me. I know me. I’ve done me. I’d much prefer to learn something new, or experience a unique perspective. This guy isn’t capable of that. His life seems very limited.

He also seems rather short-sighted. He doesn’t seem to notice people running away from him. I’ve seen people who have had to get rather rude to shut him up. One guy started his leaf blower right in the middle of a story. Mr. Talky-Pants didn’t even seem surprised or insulted. I bet things like that happen to him a lot. You’d think that someone who is that inwardly focused would be more aware of insults, but he lacks that quality.

When you are talking to someone, try listening as well. Every once in a while, check in with yourself and say, “Am I learning anything new?” If not, ask something. Show some interest in those around you. Keep doing that until it comes naturally to you. People will most likely be charmed by your sincere curiosity, even if it does take practice.

That, and knowledge is power.

A big rule of thumb is that if people are running from you, you are either too big of a proponent of open carry, or you most likely aren’t a pleasure to be around.


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Go Ahead. Ask.

I’ve moved to Seattle, the most liberal city in the entire United States, and yet I’m finding that from a social standpoint, folks around here are pretty conservative. That makes it hard to make friends. And for the first time in my life I feel kind of pushy. Little ol’ me.

Here’s a prime example of the difference between Seattle and Florida: Whenever I’m at work on a hot summer afternoon, I have to go out and measure the gaps on my drawbridge. We do this because metal expands when it gets hot. If you try to open a drawbridge that has expanded too far, it can jam. That’s not very good for the structure. So you have to keep track of these things.

Here in Seattle, when I’m crouched down on the sidewalk, tape measure in hand, and writing on a clip board, pedestrians eye me curiously. But they never ask what I’m doing. On the other hand, when I did the same thing in Florida, child, please, people would be all up in my business. “What on earth are you doin’, girl?”

But here’s the thing. I liked it when people did that. I’m proud of my job. I enjoy talking about it. I like giving people information that they didn’t previously know. I’ve met a lot of really fascinating people that way.

As a general rule, people like being put in a position of expertise. It’s a comfortable place to be. And it shows that you’re interested in them. It’s a great way to break the ice with someone.

So if you’re curious about something someone is doing, go ahead. Ask. The worst that could happen is they’ll say it’s none of your business. Or you might just learn a thing or two and make a new friend.