If Only You Would Just Ask

October 9, 2018: This post originally appeared on Medium. It has now been moved here.

I adore my little 3-year old cousin Brooklynn. She has me wrapped around her little finger. She’s an adorable girl, and I’d do anything for her, but today I learned an important lesson from her.

We were racing around my driveway, her on her cute little pink princess bike. Her mother, my aunt, calls to her, it’s time for her to come inside to eat dinner.

As Brooklynn hops up and runs off towards her mother, I gently remind her that she needs to put her bike away.

“Can you please put my bike away Eli?” she sweetly asks me.

Of course I can. How can I say no to adorable little Brooklynn?

And yet, as I walked away, carrying the pink princess bike, I consider what I had just done. Was I creating a spoiled personality, rotten and expected others to serve her? Was I making life too easy for her, leading her to expect everything to be done for her in life?

Then something occurred to me. There was a key difference to our interaction then there was to those of one who is spoiled.

She had asked me to put the bike away.

All too often you worry about seeming out of hand. You worry about upsetting other people around you. It bothers you to think that your request, your needs could be a bother to someone else.

But if you would just ask, whole worlds of possibility can open up to you.

You should never be afraid to ask when you are in need of something.

What’s the worst they can say? “No”?

If you aren’t willing to ask others for help when you need it, you are going to be left carrying everything on your own shoulders. Why would you do everything by yourself, be forced to find your own out of the way solution to your problems, when a simple question, a plea for help can have it possibly solved so much quicker?

A 2008 study by US National Library of Medicine found that we as people are far too pessimistic when it comes to the success of asking:

“People underestimated by as much as 50% the likelihood that others would agree to a direct request for help”

Why are we so afraid, so determined that everyone is out to refuse us? As people, we cannot and should not get hung up on the idea that others don’t want to help us. We should want to help others, and at least hope that others want to help us.

The difference between being spoiled and being someone who is willing to ask for help, is that simple question. By asking that question, Brooklynn was showing that she wasn’t spoiled brat who expects everything to be done for her, but a polite girl who is willing to ask for help when she feels she needs it.

At least I like to think so.

Written on July 29, 2013