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All You Have to Do Is Ask

How to Master the Most Important Skill for Success

By Wayne Baker
15-minute read
Audio available
All You Have to Do Is Ask by Wayne Baker

All You Have to Do Is Ask (2020) provides a set of tools that will help you improve your ability to ask for the things that contribute to success. It identifies eight main obstacles that stop us from making requests and examines how they can be overcome or circumvented.

  • Team leaders and managers
  • CEOs
  • Entrepreneurs

Wayne Baker is the Robert P. Thome Professor of Business Administration and Professor of Management & Organizations at the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business. He is also the faculty director of the Center for Positive Organizations. He has published six books, and numerous scholarly articles. 

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All You Have to Do Is Ask

How to Master the Most Important Skill for Success

By Wayne Baker
  • Read in 15 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 9 key ideas
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All You Have to Do Is Ask by Wayne Baker
Synopsis

All You Have to Do Is Ask (2020) provides a set of tools that will help you improve your ability to ask for the things that contribute to success. It identifies eight main obstacles that stop us from making requests and examines how they can be overcome or circumvented.

Key idea 1 of 9

Asking for help is the bridge between us and success.

A baby was once born in Romania. Her name was Cristina, and, not long after her birth, she developed craniosynostosis, a rare condition that causes the bones of the skull to fuse prematurely. Craniosynostosis can result in a permanently misshapen head and distorted face. Surgery can resolve the problem – but it was difficult to find a specialist capable of conducting that surgery in Romania.

Don’t worry – this is a story with a happy ending. Cristina did get the operation. But she wouldn’t have if someone close to her hadn’t leveraged the power of asking. 

The key message here is: Asking for help is the bridge between us and success.

If we don’t ask, people won’t know what we need. And if people don’t know what we need, they can’t help us. 

Luckily for little Cristina, her aunt, Felicia, was aware of this. Even luckier for Cristina, Felicia happened to be taking part in an activity called the Reciprocity Ring when Cristina developed craniosynostosis. A Reciprocity Ring is a guided group activity that allows participants to tap the collective knowledge, wisdom, and resources of a large network to obtain the things they need. Felicia, who lived in France, used this opportunity to ask for contact with an experienced pediatric cranial surgeon who could help her niece. One of her fellow participants was a pediatrician, and he introduced her to a relevant specialist. The rest is history. 

You never know what people know – or whom they know – until you ask. If Cristina’s story wasn’t enough to convince you, here’s another illustrative example: a senior engineer at a major auto company had encountered a complex technical problem. After grappling with it for a long time, he finally decided to reach out to his network of colleagues to ask for an expert who could help him. The first person to respond was a newly hired 22-year-old administrative assistant. It turned out that her father had the very expertise needed to untangle the problem. What’s more, her father had recently retired and had lots of free time. Who would have thought that a young administrator would hold the key to the solution?

All this anecdotal evidence is backed up by hard science, too. In fact, studies show that as much as 90 percent of the help provided in the workplace occurs only after assistance has been requested.

So next time you feel stressed at work, don’t hold back. Reach out to a colleague and experience the power of asking for help. 

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