I love my dad. Aside from his quirky personality, he’s layered my day-to-day playbook with all kinds of handy go-to guides:
- If it’s worth doin’, it’s worth doin’ well.
- No better time than the present.
- If you got <insert my latest material desire> and I got a feather up my butt, we’d both be tickled.
- Not to decide is to decide.
- I brought you into this world. I can take you out too.
- One, “Awe, shit,” wipes out a whole lot of, “Atta girls.”
- Man cannot live on bread alone. He must have peanut butter.
But the one that’s served me the best in my life is, “You don’t ask, you don’t get.”
This past week, I was in Houston on business. I was at a group dinner, my boss seated at my left, and had just consumed a phenomenal Alaskan Halibut with Basmati rice. As with all meals—regardless of how filling said meal might have been—I reached for the dessert menu. (Because, “There’s always room for Jell-O.”)
Much conversation kicked in as to which option was the best selection. Like a good dessert fanatic, I honed in on the dessert sampler that had four or five options. They weren’t, however, the exact selections I would have preferred.
I waited until the waitress swung by and flagged her over. “What are the odds I could get some of the sampler options switched around?”
The lady giggled at me which wasn’t surprising since I’d been hanging onto the dessert menu since I’d walked into the place an hour earlier. “Which ones were you thinking of switching?”
I pointed out a few items and left a few others “as-is”.
The waitress chuckled again, said, “I’ll see what I can do,” and shuffled off.
I looked up to find my boss staring at me, his expression too straight, his eyes without a bit of humor in them. “You’re going to eat a whole sampler?”
“Depends on if she can pull off the substitutions,” I offered back with a smile and a happy shrug of my shoulder. (If he knew me better, he’d know not to question my dessert eating capabilities.)
He looked down the length of the table, nose high and jawline hard. He didn’t say anything else, but the overall mood/message said, “I’m not too worried because it’ll never happen.”
Me being who I am, I answered the unspoken message with, “Hey. Dad always says, ‘You don’t ask, you don’t get.’”
I got what I wanted. Not only that, the way they rang it up ended up being cheaper than if I’d ordered the base sampler.
Then I proceeded to pass my coup de gra around so everyone could share in the fun. (Boss included.)
I think the universe was either trying to tell me something, or was using me to share the “ask for it” message with someone else, because damned if similar moments didn’t keep popping up throughout the week.
This approach to life isn’t just for small things like dessert samplers, special deals on happy hour wine selections, or room upgrades. In fact, I’d argue it’s most important for the big stuff. Things like asking for a few extra days off to get your head clear, or taking a step outside of what’s comfortable and applying for a new job. If we never open our mouths to ask for our heart’s desire…or step toward a goal we long to achieve…we’ll never get what we want.
Do you ask for what you want? Small things? Big things? Or do you settle for exactly what’s on the menu and wait for life to serve up its surprises? (‘Cause God knows, that happens too.) What was the last thing you asked for? Did you get it? Did it lead you to unexpected surprises?