What I love most about failure stories is that they’re almost always about learning or redemption.
It’s a mistake to think of events or circumstances that don’t go our way as failures. For example, when someone gets a divorce they usually think of their divorce as a failure. Another way to look at it is that the person who made the decision to divorce has the capacity to allow herself/himself to change their mind, leave an unfulfilling (or abusive situation), or to simply choose a happier life.
A more helpful—and life-affirming—way to view “failure” is that it’s research and development, or learning. In other words, you’re either getting what you wanted (or something better), or you’re learning.
Failure is Impossible
– Susan B Anthony
So I guess you’re wondering about my failure.
Last month my first book Moving Beyond Betrayal: The 5-Step Boundary Solution for Partners of Sex Addicts was released. As a first-time author you’ve really got to work to get the word out about your book so it reaches the people who need it most—beyond your immediate relatives and codependent friends :-)!
As I was brainstorming who to send a shout-out to, I thought of Dave Ramsey. Now, if you know who Dave Ramsey is, you’re probably thinking, “Yeah, right, Vicki’s going to be on the Dave Ramsey Show.” (Actually, you’re right—I’m not—but I’m getting to that here shortly.)
The truth is, you never know what’s possible until you ask.
If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it 1,000 or maybe 10,000 times in my office to clients:
You can ask anyone for anything.
What stops most people is that they automatically count themselves out or pre-emptively deliver the No to themselves silently inside their head before the ask ever leaves their lips. Don’t do that.
Yes, it’s true, you may not get what you ask for. But wouldn’t you rather aim for 1000 and get 500 than aim for zero and get it?
So about a week ago I decided to send an email to Dave Ramsey and ask him if I could be a guest on his radio show and talk about my book. I’ve been a Dave Ramsey fan since 1996, and I know that he is very recovery-savvy and often talks about boundaries, so I truly felt that the information would be of interest to his listeners. And I’ve followed his financial advice for many years. I regularly refer clients to his resources, events, workshops, and the Financial Peace University classes held throughout the Houston area in local churches.
So here’s the response I got, just a few days after I sent my message:
Thank you for thinking of us, but unfortunately The Dave Ramsey Show rarely has outside guests. We wish you all the best on your book campaign, though! Have a great rest of the week!
If you’re thinking I was crushed, far from it.
Here’s what I loved about the experience, and some of the reasons to increase your Nos:
- I had the courage to ask! Have you ever asked for something—without any attachment to the outcome—and felt great about it? That’s how I felt.
- I actually got a response. Most people never take the time to respond to requests like this one, and you can learn a lot about someone by whether, and how, they say No. When a person (or an organization) takes the time to respond—even to say No—it’s relational, considerate, and imho, a sign of integrity and character.
- Because I received a response, I had clarity. I knew where I stood. Isn’t it frustrating to spend inordinate amounts of time waiting for someone to respond to a request? Or worse, to be told repeatedly that you’ll get an answer soon . . . and it doesn’t come? Or a vague response like, “I’ll try.” In cases like this, it’s best to interpret any response other than a Yes or a No as a No. The alternative (hoping for the response you want) keeps you in a frustrating state of limbo and uncertainty.
- I felt complete, as if I had done what I had power over. The other person’s response is always out of our control. Nothing to regret or say “you should have” in the future.
- It gave me an opportunity to find out how I accept Nos. Most of us receive a No as a rejection or a sign of our unworthiness. This is distorted thinking, and it will make you miserable. Other people’s Nos are about them—their preferences, priorities, life circumstances, and a host of other factors which we have no way of knowing or maybe even understanding.
- Although I got a No in this situation, my resilience to getting Nos was increased, making it easier in the future to make requests. The number of Yes’s you get increases with the Nos you’re willing to risk, in the same way that Babe Ruth had 1,330 strike-outs to his 714 home runs.
As a partner, do you avoid making requests because you’re afraid of No?
Or if you’re single and dating, do you interpret a potential date’s lack of interest as “rejection”? If someone doesn’t want to spend time with you, how much true enjoyment can you get from being with them?
A more empowering and freeing mindset is to take the view that the people who are meant to be in your life will show up, and stay. Everyone else will either self-select out of your life (for their own reasons) or you will self-select out of theirs. Don’t waste time staring at the rear-view mirror.
Asking and making requests takes vulnerability and courage.
Are there requests you want to make? If there are, I encourage you to make them. You have more to gain by receiving another person’s No than you do by keeping silent and staying “safe” (yet disappointed).
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© Vicki Tidwell Palmer, LCSW (2016)
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