One of the things that I have focused on more this year is asking. I firmly believe “if you don’t ask, you don’t get”, so I try to ask as much as possible. I don’t expect to always (or ever) get what I want, but I know that life is a numbers game: the more you ask, the more you help your odds of getting.
And I am also on the receiving end of a lot of asking, from founders who want my time, expertise, or advice to organizations who want me to speak at their events or work with their team members.
And what all of this asking so often reveals is that some people can be real askholes. And it’s essential that we don’t become one of them.
Here’s what I mean.
When we ask something of someone and they take the time, effort, or mental energy to respond and help, we should then take the time, effort, or mental energy to act on what they have shared, or – at the very least! – say thank you.
But you would be surprised by how many askers don’t follow these basic courtesies. I have given hours of my time to people who have never said thank you. I have been vampired by information-seekers who suck my brain dry and then do nothing with the information. I have spoken at events and then heard nothing from the organizers. What askholes!
So a word of caution: don’t ever become or entertain askholes. If you ask someone for an introduction and you get the introduction, don’t sit on it. Pick up the phone or send that email. And if you give someone an introduction, expect them to do the same.
If you ask for advice and get it, don’t simply throw it on the heap of things you know and never use. Apply it, filter it, reject it, or tell the advice-giver what you did/didn’t do with what they shared. And if you take the time to offer advice to someone else (who has asked for it), expect them to do the same.
If you ask a friend/a book/a community/the universe for some help, and you get the help, don’t take it for granted. Say thank you and reciprocate if and when you can. And if someone asks you for help and you give it to them, expect them to say thank you and reciprocate if and when they can.
We have all been ask-ers and ask-ees. We have all taken others’ time, and given our own time. We have all helped and been helped. It’s an inevitable part of being a founder and human. It is a great part of being a founder and human. And it is a powerful part of being a founder and human.
But with great power comes great responsibility not to be, or let ourselves be abused by, askholes.