Recently the amazing Vanessa Chase over at Philanthropy for All shared a most incredible Ted talk by Amanda Palmer on the art of asking. I invite you to watch it and share your thoughts and experiences of asking.
What stands out to me in this video? She asks for help. She asks frequently. She isn’t ashamed. And she receives help, thanks people, and connects with them.
She speaks about the direct connection that you get with people through asking and receiving. That asking for help is not a shameful thing, nor is it a one way relationship. She tells stories of using the internet and tools like Twitter to enable this. How they give her fans the abilities to help her out with advice, food, and so much more and to feel valuable in return.
Is this fair?
Amanda gives the example of couchsurfing with a family who slept on their couches so that she and her band could take the beds. ‘Is this fair?’ she asked herself – and the response is incredible. In the morning, the mom thanks her for the music she sings, as it has truly helped her daughter. She thanks her for choosing their house to sleep in. The act of accepting help from this family was accepting a thank you. It was saying to them that they are incredible. Amanda and her band got a bed for the night but that family, they got just as much, if not more.
An obsession with Independence
And yet, so often people seem ashamed to ask for help, worried that we will be putting someone out, that they will only say yes because they feel they have to. And receiving help is often even harder. We seem to have a culture of independence first whenever possible – ‘no thanks, I can do that myself’. And yet, we seem to be avoiding the well known fact that the world, and all of us within it, are interdependent – we depend on each other. We forget that asking for help can in fact be a gift to that other person. By asking we are saying ‘I trust you and you have something of incredible value to me – you are important and valuable’. And then they give….and they feel good.
Why do people give their time, money, skills, food, beds etc? – Why wouldn’t we? When we give, we feel good….so we give more.
With this in mind, by not asking for help (and showing much gratitude when it is given) do we not deprive people of the most amazing feeling in the world – to feel good about themselves?
What would happen if we starting asking everyone for help – even those who life has given an abundance of challenges?
And now let’s relate this to people ‘experiencing disadvantage’. Maybe they have a low income, a disability, mental illness, or have just had a rough time in life. How much do we ask them for help? We give it, yes, but when do we ask for it? ‘These people have so little, is it fair to ask?’. But by not asking what are we saying to them? Are we not inadvertently saying ‘you don’t have anything to give, you are not valuable’?
Asking is not begging – it’s about community
Begging is when we ask for something for ‘those poor people’. You give because you feel bad for someone, because you feel you have more than them and want to share. The feel good factor is not an even street.
Asking is different. It is about asking someone to share their valuable skills, resources, etc. Asking is an opportunity for both parties. Asking is about community. Each and every one of us asking, receiving and giving. All of us feeling good for it.
Why we are not a charity
Unfortunately, often charities are associated with the begging definition above. We at The You Can Hub have purposely decided not to be a charity for this very reason. We feel uncomfortable with concept of asking or giving out of pity. We want to do things differently. We value community and believe that together, anything is possible. We believe that everyone can live a life we love but that to achieve this, we need to work together. We need to ask for help, give help, receive help and be extremely grateful for this whole cycle. We believe that everyone has something of value, something to give and that everyone needs a bit of help to get over life’s challenges. We are not us and them….we are just us.
We are always looking for new and wonderful ways to fund our work. So, slowly we are learning the art of asking. We are setting up crowdfunding tools like localgiving, experimenting with different campaigns and recently we have even started playing with a Give What You Like model with some our consultancy work.
Agree? Intrigued? Join us!
So we invite you to help us, join us. We want to connect with you. You are valuable. Your community needs you. And in return you will get smiles, and laughs and big high fives and thank you’s to no end…and we will help you feel comfortable with asking for help when you need it too. You give, you feel. You get, you feel. And isn’t feeling good what life is really all about?