Why You Must Ask

Many people are self starters. They’re ready to pick up a task and get it done. You love them.

Then there are those that never start. They never seem to do anything.

There’s a simple action that needs to happen.

Question Mark Graffiti

Image by Balil Kamoon

You must ASK them to do a task.

Asking is the beginning of receiving. Make sure you don’t go to the ocean with a teaspoon. At least take a bucket so the kids won’t laugh at you.
— Jim Rohn

It’s not that they don’t want to be productive or to start a product. Many times it’s they don’t know the task is important. So they let it linger.

Rosario Dawson and Maria Teresa Kumar of Voto Latino learned this lesson. Their mission is to get Latinos excited to vote.

Dawson mentioned in a recent Fast Company articleWhenever we do voter registration, we ask, ‘Why haven’t you voted before?’ The response is often, ‘No one’s asked us.’ It’s not about telling people what to do–it’s about sharing what they can do.”

They made it a point to send text messages encouraging and asking young Latinos to vote on election day. When they took action and asked them to vote on election day, they saw an 8% increase in the Latino vote.

Now that’s impressive! By simply asking, they helped increase the participation of a group of voters that normally didn’t vote.

What can you learn from this?

  • People often overlook a need: The Latinos Dawson and Kumar interviewed never voted because they were never asked. Since no one asked, they didn’t see it as a need or desirable action.
  • Take action yourself: We will wonder why something isn’t getting done. We’ll sit around and discuss it with those that aren’t responsible for completing it. Yet we’ll neglect going to the source. Going to the source can reveal the underlying reason why the task is never done or left incomplete.
  • Ask and you shall receive: By sending out text messages asking the demographic to vote, they saw a huge increase in votes. The simple adage “Ask and you will receive” proves to be true once again. Take the time to ask and you may be surprised with the results.

To get the results you desire, you must be willing to go to the source and ask two questions.

  1. Why are you not doing this?
  2. Will you do this?

Taking the time to ask will reap great rewards.

Your team will start tasks. They will finish tasks. They will start to take initiative.

If you have the modest success that Dawson and Kumar had, you’ll see at least an 8% increase in productivity and task completion. What would you do if you were able to experience an 8% increase in productivity from your team?

Effective management always means asking the right question.
— Robert Heller

Question: What questions are you asking? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.


Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Sometimes, all you have to do is ask.

  • This is such a big and important topic for church leaders. Often people don’t serve the church because they have never been asked to serve. People are waiting to be asked and we need to start asking more. Great post!

    • We’ve found this to be true in our church as well Dan. People see things getting done and feel that there are enough people doing what needs to be done. Truth is there is much that could be taken off the shoulders of the few. Getting out and asking the rest of the congregation can change the whole church.

      Has this been your experience?

      • It totally can and does.

        I wrote a post a while ago about the key to getting volunteers was to ask. Here is the link if anyone wants to read it, http://wp.me/p1waA2-eL

        I think sometimes the reason why pastors don’t ask is because they think the church members are already busy and don’t have time. But in most cases if you show the need and then make the ask, the person/people will say yes.

        • Thanks for sharing your post Dan. I’m sure my readers will get something from it.

  • I find this very interesting. One one side I can see how it is important in a church- to get people involved.
    But I also see this as potential for our upcoming Presidential election. Maybe we shouldn’t assume people are registered to vote, maybe we shouldn’t assume people will go vote. Maybe we should ask them to go vote (not tell them who to vote for).

    • That’s the crazy thing Dawson and Kumar found out through their research. Lots of people are not registered to vote.

      Now, how could we insert that question into everyday conversations? It seems to be a little awkward to ask someone if they’re registered to vote. Any suggestions?

      • This is an area God has placed on my heart. I addressed this in my June Newsletter. 14% of Americans THINK they are registered and they are not- that’s approx 33 million people! In 2000 Bush won the state of FL with 537 votes!
        Each vote matters.
        I feel as if protecting our country and our freedoms should be almost as important as witnessing for Christ.
        Witnessing can be awkward too but we are told not to let that stop us and I pray more of us will embrace this attitude.
        I am not perfect in this. It’s much easier for me to write a blog/newsletter about it than to tell my friends and family but it’s something we must do if we want to preserve America.
        Wallbuilders has created a great way to help us overcome this fear/hesitation.
        Go to http://www.wallbuilders.com/vote/
        There you can check to make sure you and your loved ones are registered. If not, it takes you through the process to get registered. If you look up a friend/family member and they are not registered you can send them an email to help them get registered.
        This is a great tool, but I caution people to use it how it is intended and not as a tool to spy.

        I think what is important too is for people to not feel pressured into voting for a certain person. Simply encouraged to be responsible citizens.

        • That blows me away TC. How do you not know if you’re registered to vote? It seems every couple of months or years we receive new voting cards. Do they not know because they never get out to vote?

          • That is my guess. When I turned 18 I was so excited to register and bummed I had to wait for an election.
            I’ve also heard approx 30% of conservative Christians are not registered. That is a HUGE amount influence/votes not being used.
            It’s sad when you realize there are those in other countries willing to risk death and miss out on work just to vote and we are a society too busy and disenfranchised to exercise our rights.
            This presidential election is being called the greatest one in our generation (or possibly ever). I know that seems dramatic, but I have to say I agree.
            There is much at stake for our nation this Nov.

  • Interesting topic Joe.

    I am more of a self-starter and do not always wait to be asked to do things. I never used to understand those that aren’t wired like me. So I was impatient and prideful. One way to get people moving is not just ask, but to ask well 🙂 Be in their shoes, understand them and then meet them where they are at. I think doing this has given me more results, made me a better person too.

    • Great way to break it down. You can’t ask with a bad attitude. It has to be with a desire to help that member succeed.

  • I found this quite interesting and intriguing Joe! I believe we have to:

    – Know or be able to determine the right question to ask. You’ve emphasized this with determining the need.
    – When you ask, make sure you’re conveying the message that the other person is valuable.

    I also think, obviously, if we’re leading and have established a clear vision, goals and objectives, many people will figure out what to do… we won’t have to ask! I think it behooves a good leader to know when and what to ask, like you’ve pointed out 🙂

    • That’s a great point Chris. The right question has to be asked and the message has to show value towards the other person.

    • Great point!

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  • Good points. As a faculty member I work independently and have to be very self-motivated. Students are a different story. I often have to remind them several times to complete assignments as assigned.

    • You bring out a perfect example with having to remind the students. They’re probably distracted by other shiny things and lose their focus. Bringing it back around, they get back to task.

      Do you normally get a positive response when you remind the students to complete their assignments?

      • Shiny things are their cell phones. As a two-year college instructor I’ve learned methods of reminding students that just flow into the daily routine. I repeat myself briefly, yet regularly. Most students do okay, but there are exceptions, too.

        • I attend my local state college, and I agree. Some students use cell phones constantly during class (not for note taking and productivity). That’s why I choose to sit in the very front. No distractions there!

          The professors that I have had do not really remind the class of assignments. They hand a syllabus at the first class, and it has everything on it. The do, however, remind everyone of the assignment the class period it is due! haha

          Self-motivation is necessary to advance in life.

          • I agree. Self-motivation is key. Some instructors are tougher than me on cell phone use in class.

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