By John Gronski
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.” – Matthew 7:7-8
Matthew 7:7-8 provides some wise advice. The verse guides us to use the A.S.K. “ask” principle. Ask for what you want, seek out opportunities, and knock on doors. This is a very proactive way to live one’s life and I think provides good guidance on how to find success. Asking, seeking, and knocking also takes courage, self-discipline, perseverance, and hard work. Anything good seldom comes our way unless we work for it.
I am a firm believer in the adage “ask and you shall receive”. This does not mean you will always receive what you ask for. It does mean that the probability of receiving what you want increases once you ask as opposed to not asking. Also, there is some preliminary work one needs to do to set conditions before asking.
As a young man growing up in a family business where business success was based on sales and service, I learned at an early age that if you were going to be a successful salesperson you had to have the courage to ask for the sale.
Making a great sales presentation rarely resulted in a sale if you did not take the step to ask the client to buy. I learned this from listening to sales guru Zig Ziglar as well as from my dad. Experience also was a stern teacher.
I also learned that you had to put in the hard work to understand client needs, make sound and honest recommendations, and explain the features and benefits of a product before asking for the sale. The adage should probably be revised to read, “ask and you shall receive, as long as you put in the hard work beforehand”. Still, at the end of the day you must ask for what you want.
This also applies to moving forward in one’s career. I have mentored and counseled many men and women about the importance of letting their boss know where they think their next position in the organization should be.
However, this also takes hard work and preliminary steps before asking for an opportunity. It means having the right attitude, displaying a solid work ethic, and developing a reputation for placing others first and helping others. You must demonstrate a record of effectiveness and successful results while at the same time demonstrating strong character.
Once these things are consistently represented, it is then that one should be courageous enough to ask their boss for the position they believe they are qualified for. I do not believe this is self-serving if one seeks the future position, not to serve themselves, but to serve their organization and others.
You will not discover truth or opportunities unless you take the time to look for them. This requires that you open your mind to possibilities you may never have considered before and that you open your mind to viewpoints that may seem foreign to you. There is an element of inclusivity to seeking the truth and keeping your eyes open to new prospects that will not only benefit you but will benefit others.
After all, when it comes to “seeking”, it is not only about seeking treasures for yourself, but also about seeking ways to help others. When you help others, you are also helped in some way.
Seek to cultivate new relationships even as you work to sustain existing ones. Relationships are the currency of the 21st century. As we move through life, we attend different courses and training opportunities, or we take on various roles within our organization or move from one company to another.
As we negotiate these new roles and responsibilities, we inevitably make friends. The key is to maintain these relationships once we move on. This also takes work and effort (notice the theme regarding work and effort in relation to A.S.K.).
Look for opportunities to reach out to people you once had a day-to-day relationship with. Find opportunities to provide others you used to see on a regular basis with useful information and tools.
A mentor once advised me that in terms of followers on social media, it is not about your followers reaching out to you, it is about you reaching out to your followers. Whether on social media or otherwise, stay connected with others by focusing on giving rather than receiving.
I do not believe that it is opportunity that knocks, but it is rather we who must knock on doors to get opportunity to answer. We must have the courage to knock on doors, especially doors to places we have never been before. When you knock on that door you must be prepared to give something before you can expect to receive. When you have something of value to offer the door you knock on will most likely open for you.
Any successful salesperson will tell you it is not about knocking on random doors. It is about knocking on the doors of a qualified prospect; someone with the background, experience, resources, and qualifications that makes the best use of your time and time of that person. It is important to conduct some research and do your homework rather than conducting a random door-knocking campaign.
Knocking on doors is also something to do when you realize you need some help. We are not an island. It is ok to ask others for help when you are struggling. Asking for help is a resiliency strategy. It is a good practice to knock on someone’s door and ask for help when you need it. It is better to ask for help rather than go it alone with the expectation of accomplishing superhuman feats.
It is also a good practice for leaders to knock on the doors of the people they lead and ask for their opinion or recommendation before deciding. Asking your followers for their opinion is a great way to show them that you value and respect them.
It also offers the leader an opportunity to get diverse views. Simon Sinek said in a recent tweet, “We can’t be good at everything. If we were there would be no need for teams”. A leader should take advantage of the talent on their team.
The harder you work…
The harder you work, the luckier you get. For the A.S.K. principle to work effectively you must put in the time and hard work. You have to understand what value you bring to others. You must do some analysis to understand what the needs of others are that you can fulfill. You must take the time to develop your own attributes before you can help others develop theirs.
You must also persevere. Even when you do the preliminary work and set conditions to the best of your ability people answer no when you ask, make it difficult to seek, and not answer the door you knock upon. When this happens you pick yourself up, learn from the experience, move on, and try again. The good news is that every “no” you receive brings you closer to getting a “yes” as long as you have put in the honest preparatory work necessary.
There are certain themes associated with A.S.K. These themes include hard work, perseverance, looking to give rather than to receive, doing your homework, not taking things for granted, having self-discipline, good work ethic, a positive attitude, and other attributes that normally lead to a successful and fulfilling life.
Mathew 7: 7-8 provides wise counsel but you must be willing to put in the hard work. The harder you work, the luckier you get.