The Asking Diet
Updated: Jul 16, 2020
I was recently FaceTiming* an incredibly dear friend of mine, who, due to extenuating circumstances, I don’t get to see in person too often.
During our call I was filling her in on all the fun stuff that I’m doing in Toronto by fully taking advantage of my freelance flexibility. I try as best I can to write 2000 words a day from the library. I volunteer at my local animal shelter. I’m working on making this business a viable financial success. I coach Spinning at the YMCA.
She looked at me through the screen and said: “How do you do all of this? How come you were able to start coaching?” and it made me laugh. I laughed not because I’m a lunatic megalomaniac with outrageous aspirations of grandeur (though only time will tell) - but because the answer seemed simple enough: “I asked.”
A couple of days later it struck me, as I thought about goals for my business and myself, that the best place to begin is really by asking. Asking is such a powerful tool – it lends itself to all sorts of handy things.
Don’t know what makes you happy? Ask.
Want to try that exercise class but not ready to commit? Ask.
Wondering how that person you admire does what they do? Ask.
Have skills you’d like to share? Ask.
Spotted a volunteer role that speaks to your soul? Ask.
Desire deep change and bigger blessings? Ask.
If I’m sounding obnoxious – bear with me. Whether you ask questions of yourself, or questions of others, the act of asking is the single most powerful tool for effecting change.
Asking is even more powerful than action – because that action can (and often should) be guided by the answers to your questions.
Think about it – if you introduced the act of asking to your every day, how different would that every day start to look? “What is working?” “What’s not working?” “Why?” are good starters to try on for size. And then go deeper - “How can I make this better?” “Where can I best apply my skills?” “Is this really what I want to do?” - all of these helping you to edit your life, reduce 'junk' experiences**, and curate what you spend your time on.
Finally, a personal favourite... “Are you sure?”
“Are you sure?” is a glorious gift of a question. It wraps up conflict resolution, ignites curiosity, and reminds us gently that we don’t always have it figured out.
Having a fight with a partner or colleague over a perceived slight, find yourself making judgement on them? Check yourself. Are you absolutely, 100% sure that they’re wrong, and you’re right? That you’re in the clear, blameless and innocent? Or that there’s really no resolution you can come to?
“Are you sure?” dismantles pride, which, as proverbs fans will know, goeth before a fall. It helps you stay interested on an intellectual level, and it checks assumptions. Byron Katie’s work ‘The Work’ is a wonderful starting place.
And if you’re nervous about asking? Don’t be. My father gave me fantastic advice when I began Olim. “Most often, people love being asked to help. You’re appealing to their humanity and their skills. People love helping other people.”
And isn’t it true? When someone asks you, genuinely (and often vulnerably) for help, it makes you feel pretty darn great about yourself.
When you ask, you appeal to their favourite subject – themselves and/or their expertise – and by listening to what they have to say, you’ll find pearls in their wisdom. There’s always a line, of course – so don’t cross it by being pushy, insistent, or overbearing – but ask thoughtful, intelligent questions and then listen to the answers. Too many of us listen only to reply.
Depending on your source matter, either Abe Lincoln or Peter Drucker said: “The best way to predict your future is to create it.”
What would that future look like if you took up the superpower of asking? Take your life off autopilot, and start defining what you actually want it to look like. Ask, ask, and ask again. Write down the answers you receive, and let them direct the action you take.
And if the answer is no, that’s fine too. Take it, learn from it, and then apply it – even when you get rejected. Soon, asking will be second nature – and with it, all the benefits it brings.
What are you excited about in your life right now? What change are you looking for? Do you
need a human being that can write really, really good copy? Drop us a line via our contact page: https://www.olimcomms.com/contact
* Until I have the finances and the technology to arrange all my favourite people in the same hippy commune (likely in New Mexico, because the combo of aliens and sopaipillas is just too good to pass up), I will continue to give thanks for the technology that lets me chat shit with my loved ones.
**Junk experiences include, but are not limited to: doing the same thing over and over that you hate, not choosing how to best use your free time, thinking you have no power to effect your life, slumping in front of the TV with a ready meal for the 4th night in a row, instead of joining your mates for five-a-side like you wanted to. See also - wanting to change things and doing naff all about it because you believe your own crappy excuses.