I was with a group of friends recently who, in a good-natured ribbing, labeled me as “high maintenance.”
We were at a conference together, staying at a gorgeous retreat center nestled in the hills of Orange County, CA. Only problem was our rooms didn’t have irons and I refuse to wear t-shirts when I travel.
(Nothing against t-shirts. One of my life mottos comes from an old high school football coach who used to tell us before a game, “Ya look good ya play good!” followed by, “Wise! We’re thirsty over here! Bring us some water!”)
Long story short, my collared shirts were desperately wrinkled so I made finding an iron my top priority. I was informed there was an iron on the property, and no one had else in the group of 35 had asked for it. SCORE.
It took a little while to track it down, which led to the “high-maintenance” label.
Again, completely good-natured and fun. But believe it or not, it wasn’t the first time I’d earned the label:
- I don’t like camping. At all. Indoor plumbing and showers are one of the greatest inventions of humankind. We should all use them, early and often.
- I prefer environments with air conditioning. If there’s not a blast of cold air inundating the room, I probably don’t want to be there.
- I don’t do hotel “roomies.” This is mainly due to my room temperature preferences and if, by chance, I get stuck with a snorer, I will literally lie awake all night (I’m a light sleeper, too). The hours I should be sleeping will be spent plotting for ways to kill awaken my noisy bed neighbor.
- I don’t drink cold water. It has to be room temperature or, ideally, a few degrees cooler. I think it has to do with the time I broke a tooth and, before it got fixed, took a large gulp of ice cold water. Let’s just say I never realized how sensitive the nerves in my teeth are.
There are other “quirks”, but hopefully these paint a picture of my mostly-reasonable demands.
See, I learned a few years ago it’s much easier to simply ask for what you want than suffer in silence.
I know there are going to be times when I just need to buck-up and deal with the situation. We can’t always get things the way we want them. This life ain’t Burger King, yo.
But I believe most times, if we’re simply willing to ask politely and persistently, we can get what we want without inconveniencing people.
The examples above are silly. They have no real consequences other than my momentary comfort. But here’s where asking for what you want has real-life consequences, some of them long-lasting and significant:
- Relationships. Sometimes people we’re in relationship with do things we don’t like. We can either ask them to stop doing those things (name-calling, clipping nails on the couch, showing up late to appointments, etc.), or we can suffer silently.
- Jobs. Our job path can stagnate if we don’t ask for what we want—more responsibility, a different position, more money, more vacation. Many people reading this post, right now, know what they want from their job but, for whatever reason, do not or will not ask for it.
- Calling. Different than a job, some folks will never take the risk to answer the question, “What’s my calling? What could be? What do I really want from life?” They’ll suffer silently in a job, never finding out what they really want to be doing. This, to me, is the most terrifying.
Here’s the thing: most of us know what we want. We can see it, taste it, hear it, and feel it. It’s tangible, real, right in front of us.
In my experience, so few of us are actually willing to ask for it.
Here’s what I want you to do. Call it an exercise in asking. I want you to find a situation where you can ask for what you really want (what’cha really, really want).
Pick something low-risk at first. The easiest place to start is the food and beverage industry. In fact, here’s an example from my own life from just a few days ago.
Me: Hi. This tastes a little watered down.
Barista: Do you want me to remake it or get you something different?
Me: Let’s try an iced Americano instead. Is that cool?
Barista: Yep! I’ll bring it right out to you. Sorry about that.
Me: That’s okay.
…And that was it! Mind you, I was nervous to go up to the counter (“what if she doesn’t like me?”), but I went anyways because I didn’t want to drink my watered down iced coffee.
I got what I wanted and the barista got to make something right. A win for both of us. Hooray winning!
Next time you’re at a restaurant, if you get something different than what you ordered, politely ask for your server to change it.
Then, when you want something a little more difficult, ask for the raise or promotion at work. What’s the worse that could happen?
Finally, if you really want to make some waves, ask yourself, “what do I want most out of this life?” Then, when you find the answers, have the courage to start living them out.
Bottom line: don’t settle. Settling is a poison that creeps into every fiber of your being and brings a slow, painful death.
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