Have you ever found yourself needing help but not knowing how to ask? Maybe you felt guilty asking for somebody’s time, money, or expertise. Perhaps you even felt a little twinge of embarrassment needing to ask for help at all. But why do we feel this way when, so often, we are happy to help others? The brilliant musician, artist, and community builder Amanda Palmer has some insights on these questions. Insights that change the way we think about the art of asking!
Amanda Palmer could be called an expert at many things. She is an accomplished musician, author, TED speaker, and artist. She has built an amazing community of supporters and fans around the world and radically changed the way we think about the music industry.
And she’s done all of this while building an incredible community around her through the power of asking! In the talk we’ll share with you shortly, she gives us some insights that can help us become masters of this critical skill and share with us why it’s so important we do.
Reframing Our Ask
In theory, asking for help is simple. We know how good it feels to help people, and yet, we rarely feel comfortable enough to ask ourselves. Why is this? Instead of seeing asking for help as something that shows need or vulnerability, could we reframe it as a way of building and strengthening our connections with others?
Early in her life as a street performer and musician, Amanda Palmer saw the immense power an ask could have. Her act as the eight-foot bride—a living statue that handed out daisies and loving eye-contact to those kind enough to put money in the hat in front of her—taught her that the process of asking isn’t a one-way street. In fact, it can be a gift to the giver.
Since her days as The Bride, she has become a renowned musician. She has toured the world, raised $1.2 million to crowdfund an album and changed what’s possible in the music industry simply by asking her fans to be a part of her community and support her work.
Over the years of couch surfing, crowd surfing, and simply asking for what she needs, she has built a world of devoted fans, and a network of people ready to help with the power of a simple ask.
Through all this, she’s also collected quite a bit of wisdom that she can share with the rest of us!
Here’s Amanda from the TED stage giving with her beautiful talk The art of asking…
She also has an incredible book called The Art of Asking. I had the pleasure of reading this last summer and it completely changed my way of thinking about how we build communities around us. If you are a creative or just need a push towards conquering your fears when it comes to asking for what you need, give this book a read! It’s a remarkably powerful book and you’ll leave with a new hero.
“It’s not easy to ask, asking makes you vulnerable.” — Amanda Palmer
A lot of us grow up with a skewed view on asking for help. We’re taught from an early age that asking for help is a sign of weakness, that it shows vulnerability. That somehow needing help—or worse, money—to make our dreams come true isn’t something that’s “okay” to ask for. Yet, we will donate to charities we love when asked or lend a hand to a neighbor when they ask for help on a project. Rarely do we say “no” to an ask. Nor do we feel that someone is unfairly taking advantage of us, particularly when somebody is genuine.
Asking for what we need is an exchange. We say yes to asks because we know it’s meaningful to the other person. If we flip the idea of what asking can be, we not only get what we need but we build a stronger community around us to support and uplift us!
Asking for help starts by not doing so with shame. We must be able to give and receive help fearlessly.
The world’s big problems will be solved by those willing to ask for help.
Without an ask for help, science that could help us fight climate change remains in labs without people willing to share it and take action. Without an ask for help, organizations working to better the lives of people around the world will remain in obscurity without a community of those willing to donate and make a difference. And without asking for help, we miss out on the opportunity to do more good in the world with our unique sets of skills and expertise!
We need more asking!
Now, more than ever we need to build the type of communities that rely on the power of asking. The world’s big problems won’t be solved by people working alone!
The internet allows us to connect with more people more deeply than ever. Crowdfunding is an incredible way for us, the ordinary person, to contribute to a brighter future for us all! We can donate to a Kickstarter that is bringing us to new places in our solar system. Or a campaign to clean up rivers and streams and create beautiful pigments along the way. Or, give companies and cities the data they need to keep litter off the streets!
Here are just a few of the remarkable, world-changing and successful Kickstarters we’ve featured on EWC.
There are endless ways for us to connect with other passionate people. Together, we can make the world better for everyone. It starts simply by looking for those who are already asking or asking ourselves.
I encourage you to be a little brave the next time you need to and just ask for what you need. The people who love you, and love your work will find a way to help. We can change our future if we ask with open arms, and say “Thank you, I see you” in return.
Stay beautiful & keep laughing!
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- TED. “The Art of Asking | Amanda Palmer.” YouTube. TED, 01 Mar. 2013. Web. 10 Sept. 2019. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xMj_P_6H69g&feature=youtu.be