I recently attended an advanced coaching workshop in London focussing on the mindset required to make important shifts in life. The training was mostly experiential so involved numerous exercises – some fun, others less because they took us out of our comfort zones. One such exercise was ‘The Bold Request’. We were asked to go out on the street and make at least three bold requests in 25 minutes. The instructions were: 1) Be bold, stretch yourself; 2) Be specific, articulate what you want exactly; 3) Be authentic, let it come from the heart; 4) State why, explain the rationale; 5) Be time-bound; 6) Be detached of the outcome, whether you get a yes or no is irrelevant.
Talk about stretching our comfort zones! We all went out feeling small but we completed the mission. Our bold requests included making your own coffee in a coffee shop, helping someone pack shelves, stepping into a shop and asking for something for free, asking people to join in a song or a dance, giving a hug, and many more. Most of us got yesses and the occasional no was fine because we were detached from the outcome.
The lessons drawn from this exercise were multiple:
Feel the fear – and do it anyway
As an introvert, I found that this task really stretched me. It took me a while to act – a little voice inside me chattered away, ‘You can’t just ask like that! You can’t do this!’ My inner critic was having a great time until I decided I simply had to do it, that nothing bad could happen and the worst I could get was a no. Action, followed.
Stepping up your game or making a shift in life requires the right mindset. Sometimes your inner critic is so loud it drowns out any other sound. Don’t let this voice immobilise you. Rather, as Susan Jeffers said: Feel the fear – and do it anyway.
I was amazed to learn that people are open to help and go along with you. We live in a world where we compartmentalise everything – our lives, our feelings, our needs. But when we open our minds to the possibility of helping one another, things shift. As the African proverb goes: If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together. At the core is the concept of togetherness. Human beings are social and thrive when they connect with each other and achieve things together. Think of how positive you feel when you help someone. Likewise, when you receive help. It is the power of not doing it alone.
You don’t ask – you don’t get
When you make a bold request whether in a personal or professional context, you put yourself in a vulnerable position. There is, after all, an element of uncertainty, risk, or emotional exposure. As Brené Brown points out in her work Daring Greatly, allowing yourself to be vulnerable is a sign of strength and courage. It’s a lot easier to avoid the things that might make you vulnerable, rather than lean into them. But this also means that you’re missing out on a lot of good things. What you don’t ask for, you don’t get.
Jia Jiang gave an interesting TED Talk on his experiment with rejection after having experienced a serious business rejection. He desensitized himself to the pain and shame that rejection often brings and, in the process, discovered that simply asking for what you want can open possibilities where you expect to find dead ends. https://www.ted.com/talks/jia_jiang_what_i_learned_from_100_days_of_rejection
Undeniably, it is virtually impossible to make a substantial change in life without the right mindset – commitment, openness, willingness to stretch beyond our comfort zone, play with ideas and engage more with one another.
My advice is, be bold! Stretch yourself, have fun in the process and enjoy the new possibilities that unfold.