“A woman once walked into the office of her boss and said: “I’m getting to have a baby. I want you to keep paying me while I have my baby and stay with the baby at home, even though I’m not going to be working. I would wish to return to my position later, with an equivalent wage. It’s likely that this ask sounded greedy, selfish — insane, even. Yet now in many countries, because of that woman’s outrageous desire and the way she asked for it to manifest, we’ve an idea called “maternity leave”.
So, what does asking need to do with being powerful?
Power, in isolation, is not something one encounters. It isn’t an emotion. You’re not sitting alone in a room and empowering yourself. Power is a feature of good relationships where the recipient values what you give and what you get from the individuals in your life is exactly what you need and want.
The distinction between what is meant by “empowerment” and what a “strong woman” means is that all the relationships and communications a woman has would be included in the latter. (Since power is not an emotion).
So, without looking at ONE, her interests and TWO, her relationships with anyone she knows, we can’t look at a woman’s influence. A request for a promotion, a request for a divorce, to create a monogamous relationship, or a request involving a large amount of money could be your own ‘outrageous’ request.
Sometimes the big questions are not the ones that look big on paper, but because they stand to change the status quo, they’re big for you.
These are the most critical asks, large or small, to transform the way things are, our personalities, situations or even our world as we know it. These are also asks in the hearts of the most caring individuals that evoke the greatest amount of anxiety. They are, thus, also the ones that always go unquestioned.
People make the mistake of believing that asking is more dangerous than not asking, and there could be nothing further from the facts. For individuals, asking establishes tasks. So when we diminish our request before we even do it, or give up fully assuming that “there is no way he or she will consent to that,” we deprive them of the ability to move into that position. And with someone whom the intellect of our deep desires is trying to call forth, we deprive ourselves of a renewed dynamic.
Re-imagining what asking means
- Asking doesn’t mean begging.
- Asking is not informal or tit-for-tat on a scorecard that gets tallied.
- Asking is not a cruel order unless the other party consents to it.
- In order to control and exploit, asking is not about using power.
- Asking is about offering a convincing potential vision.
- Asking is about what you fight for, not what you fight against.
- Asking is an invitation to someone who you think will bring out the best in them to step into a role in your life.