I want to challenge you to find a request that will result in a no. I want you to find a request that is valuable to you, that you think would make a difference if it was a yes, but you are certain would be a no. How far do you have to reach to get to that question? Does the idea of actually making the ask strike a little fear in you?
How certain are you that your request would make a difference in the world? Do you have evidence to support your assertions? Now, here is the challenge... go to the first person that would have to approve your request and make the ask. Go now, before it’s too late. This article will be here when you get back.
What happened? You got a yes? Clearly you didn’t read the instructions. Did you get the no? Great!! Why am I so happy you got rejected? I am happy for you because you are now on your way to success. No is very often the first step to yes. The only catch to this is that your target for success will be ever changing, so hang-on!
Here are my three reasons to make requests
1) Opening doors to new possibilities
While you were focused on getting your request rejected, your boss was maybe focused on how ridiculous the question was and at the same time started wondering if maybe there was something to the request. She may be asking herself how she could turn the no to a yes, or how to get a little of what you asked for. Her wheels are now spinning on something you find valuable.
2) Putting your name in the hat as someone who cares and is willing to play a big game
Too many teachers are afraid to ask for fear of getting the rejection, for fear of being the person who asks too much. What I would say to them is if they don’t ask, someone else will. They money and resources will go to someone. Why not you? Very few people become great at what they do by not sharing their ideas and making requests and taking risks.
3) Practice is the only path to perfection
Practicing rejection and failure will give you life skills that will make your requests more and more powerful and make you someone who can pass this experience on to your students. This is a ‘practice gets you closer to perfect’ scenario. You don’t have to be perfect in your results, but you want to get closer to perfect in your ask and the best way to do that is to practice.
So what should you ask for? That is up to you. Everyday I have new things I want to accomplish, new technology I want to work with, and new people with whom I want to learn. I make the request. Can I present at the conference? In Atlanta? On school days? And will you pay for me to go? And stay? And Eat? This was one my big asks this year. I got a yes, yes, yes, no*, no*, no. Not bad. I applied to present (another ask), got accepted and enjoyed three days of learning and leading with other fabulous educators from around the world.
*I also worked out a deal with my district to provide PD as way to help cover my expenses.
Now I’m on to asking for funding for a full 1:1 program in my school. No answer yet, and it is definitely a big ask, but if I don’t ask, the consequences are unacceptable to me. This is my passion and all I can do is pursue it. My wish for you is the attitude and courage needed to pursue your passions.
Chad McGowan is a high school technology teacher and professional development specialist in educational technology. Over the past 16 years, Chad has taught a variety of math and computer courses for grades 7-12. Since 2000, Chad has been guiding other professionals, pre-k-12, in educational technology. Follow Chad on Twitter @ahstechteacher and through this blog.