I know that we all have heard these three rules before, but it seems like every time they pop up in my social media feeds or they get referred to by someone I know… I’m reminded of different parts of my life and when I learned these lessons. It’s interesting (to me) to see where they have been applicable and proven to be of benefit, even if it’s in some small way.
It’s interesting the order they are in so I’m going to list them out, then reorder them to what makes sense and then review the experiences / lessons for each. Here we go:
#1: If you do not step forward, you will always be in the same place.
#2: If you do not ask, the answer will always be no.
#3: If you do not go after what you want, you’ll never have it.
Why did I reorder them? Because it occurs to me that #2 & #3 (as shown in the image) support the pursuit of #1, so why not put them in the order they make sense?
If you don’t step forward, you will always be in the same place. This is something I remember my father teaching me about life in general. We were discussing whether life really was the “rat race” it was often cited to be. This wise man (my father) explained that while you shouldn’t consider life in general a race, you had to consider how you went through your own life a race with your past and your potential future. I didn’t understand so he explained.
Life is a process of constantly moving forward. People, he said, were not meant to be stagnant. If you aren’t growing and improving – moving forward in your life – then you were “standing still” and life was moving on without you. From this perspective, if you weren’t moving to improve and make progress, you were falling behind; not in a race with anyone else, but in the race with your own life. There’s no such thing as “stagnant” or “standing still.” Life continues to move, so if you’re not at least keeping up, you’re falling behind. The goal, he said, was to improve faster than life challenged you so that you actually got ahead in life. That made sense to me.
If you do not ask, the answer will always be no. I recall a time a few years ago when I was attending a convention in Ocean City, Maryland. It was an event oriented around Jeeps and non-profits and general fun and the parking lot at the convention center was just packed full of Jeeps, vendor tents and people (“jeepers”). It occurred to me that a picture from the roof of the convention center would just be awesome. I also knew that I couldn’t just go up there and take one; I’d have to find someone to authorize it and accompany me. I knew the chances were slim I’d find the right person or that they’d say okay, but I recognized one reality: If I didn’t ask, they wouldn’t have the chance to say “yes” either. As it worked out, I was able to find that correct person and he was agreeable. I ended up on the roof taking several pictures that were quite unique in that no one else had any like them. A couple of the people I was attending the event with scoffed when I said I was going to go ask about going up on the roof. They assured me the answer would be “no” so why even ask? Because of the chance of the yes. I risked disappointment by asking and potentially hearing “no,” but I also empowered the potential for a positive response. I’m glad I did. Lesson learned and proven.
If you do not go after what you want, you’ll never have it. Now, here’s why I put this one last: To go after what you want requires you to both step forward and to ask for opportunity (thereby creating it). The combination of these actions is the only way to pursue what you want. Failing in either will result in not attaining your goals. So… Step forward, Ask for what you want, and go after your goals with a positive energy.