It is 8:00 a.m. Tuesday, August 25, 2009. The conference room at Ackley Financial Group in Dallas, Texas is filled to capacity with highly successful entrepreneurs and business executives, all of whom are successful leaders on many levels, including in their businesses and their community. Each one of these very busy men and women had put aside numerous pressing personal and professional issues in order to participate in a two hour orientation session for the Executive Mentoring Program, a part of the Professional Leadership Program of the University of North Texas.
The mission of the Professional Leadership Program is “to prepare students for leadership by fostering qualities of integrity, objectivity, honesty, competency, loyalty, and creativity.” The mission of the Executive Mentoring Program is “for top business executives in the DFW area to provide coaching, mentoring, objectivity and sound guidance on issues affecting career and professional development to members of PLP.”
Not one of these very busy senior executives will be paid a dime to serve as mentors. In fact, the mentors were asked to consider both monetary and in-kind gifts to the program, in addition to the priceless time they will give and the expertise, experience and wisdom they will share with their mentee over the next 9 months.
It has been my honor and pleasure to plan, lead, speak and facilitate hundreds of seminars, conferences, senior executive retreats and other education and networking events across America. I have served on the faculty of four universities. Because of these activities, it has been a privilege to have met, listened to and learned from some of the best and brightest America has to offer. Suffice it to say that I was very impressed with the men and women who had voluntarily given their time to attend the orientation session and to participate in the 9 month long Executive Mentoring Program.
As I left the orientation, reflecting on how impressed I was with the quality and level of executives who participated, I asked myself, “Why would these very busy, highly successful people, many of them multimillionaires with hundreds of personal and professional commitments, give of themselves and their priceless time and expertise to such a program?”
There are many reasons of course. But probably the first and most important reason is…THEY WERE ASKED. Someone stepped up to the plate and simply asked each of these people if they would consider serving as a mentor in order to contribute to the education and life of a young scholar. Had no one asked, none of these highly successful people would be in that room for orientation and none of them would be contributing to the education and life of a young scholar at UNT. Had someone not asked, I would have not been there for sure.
Just today I agreed to fly to North Carolina in October to lead a presentation/discussion for a group of senior hospital and healthcare leaders… for a reduced fee. Why did I agree to do this? Because the circumstances are right and the presentation/discussion will be intellectually stimulating… a very high priority on my list of what is important and what I enjoy. But, most important, a friend contacted me and just asked. Had my friend not asked, this would never have happened. Yes… I might have and could have said “no thanks” but, because the circumstances are right, and I admire and respect my friend, I said “yes.”
The concept, strategy and habit, “just ask” is every bit as important, if not more important than “just do it” or other concepts, strategies and habits by which successful people live. And yet, literally millions of times a day across America, we fail to just ask. Fear of rejection heads the list of the many reasons we don’t ask as often as we should. Most of us would double or triple our success (however each of us define success) in less than a year if we would spend more time, focus and energy planning and preparing to just ask. Not just carefully planning and preparing, but also following through… executing… just ask!
So much to gain… so little to lose… I invite you to join me in a renewed focus and commitment to… just ask!