Him: Madam, so when will you invite me a poor boy to come and join your family for Christmas? Last year, I waited and you did not invite me. This year as well I have been waiting but nothing.

This was a message I received from one of my mentees recently. Now the fact that he called himself ‘poor’ has been addressed with him directly so I will not write about it for now. What saddened me was why he was waiting for me to ask first if he desired to come and spend time with my family? I mean, what is the worst answer he would have had? No! These days I look back and marvel at how this little word ‘No’ has caused many cowards to die before their deaths. If no could kill, I would be long gone by now! And how about men who have proposed to women with their best moves only to be told no. Yes, it hurt like ouch but did they die?

The funny thing about this young man’s request is that it had never even crossed my mind that he desired to spend time with us. Why? Because I was so consumed in my own life happenings and responsibilities. Yes, I care about him but he is not the only one. I have many other people in my life with various needs and all I can do is to give my best within each given day. This is a fact; people do not go about thinking about everybody they care about all the time. And so we cannot sit and wait for people we need to come and ask us ‘hey, how can I help you today?’ Another funny thing, sometimes the people we need actually need us too. I cannot tell you the number of times someone has reached out to me for whatever reason, only for me to think ‘oh it’s good you called. I actually need your help please…’

All throughout that day, I kept thinking about why so many of us desire things and yet wait to be asked if we want them. Why at all is asking such a difficult thing for some of us and how do we break this chain? While I was musing on this, I recalled how some years back a boss of mine asked me why I never asked for a promotion when other managers always came asking. Dear Lord! Me ask for a promotion at that time in my life? Never.

Yet my story has changed now. Let me illustrate with an example. I got wind of an upcoming project with a company I had consulted for in the past on a similar project. When I heard later that they were looking for a consultant my first thought was ‘but they already asked me months ago to handle this project. Why are they scouting for another consultant?’ I came up with a few explanations including ‘oh Ama you probably did not do a great job the last time and blah blah blah’ Anyway, I decided to ignore the voice of negativity and approach them to ask if I was still needed. The answer could have been a no but I got a yes! In fact, the project manager was so relieved that I was available. It turns out they assumed I was out of the country (which is my fault because I beat a gongong every time I see a beautiful new country and so people assume I am always out of town when I do not even travel that much haha!). My point though, had I hesitated and not asked I would have missed out on the wonderful sound of ‘gbakam’ when that foreign currency hit my account! You may ask, what if I had had a no? I would still be alive and well, likely still putting on weight from all that Jollof I have been eating these days.

Dearest reader, 2020 is staring at us in the face. So are you going to keep wishing, fasting and praying without taking any action such as asking? You know you can nail that position which has become vacant. For crying out loud, you have acted in the role for months and your department has not collapsed. So what is stopping you from asking for it?

You like the lady. You have been carrying her bag for 10 years, and watching as other men come and go, breaking her heart in the process and yet you keep calling her ‘Sisterine’! Why can’t you ask her to be your beloved? Eh? For how long do you intend to die inside every time you see her and wish for more than a brotherly handshake?

You want to make beautiful accessories like Asabea Ayisi. Every time you see her designs, you just want to die. Yet she is your next-door neighbour and you have not asked her once how you can become like her. Ah!

Onua listen, we need to muster courage and no one can do that for you than yourself. Yes I know, it is not easy. Even for me (talking plenty about asking), I sometimes find it extremely difficult to the extent that I do not ask at all. For real but there is hope. If you hesitate to ask for what you need, I recommend you read Mel Robbins’ 5-second-rule (God bless the friend who made me read it) or at least watch her 2011 TEDx on YouTube. Please stop standing in your own way and ask for what you need from whom you need it. If asking was wrong, Jesus would not have told us to ask!

Have a fab-ask-bulous 2020!

Ama xx

Author: Ama Duncan, amaduncan.com