How I Got Lost and Put In My Place at the State Fair

“If there is something to gain and nothing to lose by asking, by all means ask.” ~ W. Clement Stone day I was at the Minnesota State Fair—our great state “get-together”—along with about 120,000 others. We were having a fantastic day as a family, enjoying the beautiful weather, the decadent fair foods, and the company of another family with whom we are good friends.

Everything was going great until I stopped at the “milk stand” to buy cups of milk for myself, my husband, and our daughters. While I stood in line to get the milk, my husband and our friends went to get the food. My backpack and cell phone were in the bottom of the stroller, which my husband and children took (my first huge mistake!). I was supposed to get the milk and catch up with them, ultimately meeting at the Pizza Wagon.

And that is where things went horribly awry …

Apparently, things went quickly at the corn dog stand so my husband, children, and the other family all came back to the milk stand to get me. Unbeknownst to me, I headed off, carrying two full cups of milk. Not seeing them at the corn dog stand (and remember, there are about 119, 992 other people milling around), I headed toward the Pizza Wagon and waited. And waited…and waited.

After I standing by the Pizza Wagon holding two cups of lukewarm milk, I decided I somehow had missed the rest of my party. So I headed to what I thought was our final destination—the Little Hands Farm, a place where my young daughters get to wear aprons and learn about life on the farm.

I sat on a bench outside the entrance to the Little Hands Farm, choking back tears at missing this time with my girls at the fair, admittedly eating coffee-flavored custard to ease the pain until I was found.

Why do I tell this story? Because there was a valuable lesson in it for me. Once I reunited with my husband, daughters, and our friends, I instinctively asked my husband, “Why didn’t you go to the Pizza Wagon? Why did you take so long getting corn dogs? Why didn’t you think I would be sitting here waiting for you? Why did you …”

He interrupted my mini-rant to ask, “Why didn’t you ask someone to use their cell phone and call me?”

Gulp. He had a point, much to my chagrin.

There I was ranting about how this wasn’t my fault and I did everything just right and followed the plan to a “T” when he gently, but firmly reminded me that help was around me the whole time and I never saw it—if I only would have asked.

Normally I am very good at asking for what I need because I have found it to be so effective. I have lovely experiences most places I go (like restaurants, airports, and stores) because if something isn’t quite up to snuff, I ask politely for what I think would improve the experience. Or in relationships, both personal and professional, I gently but firmly ask for what it is that I think would make things better. It almost always serves to improve things and creates win-win situations, so I strongly believe in the power of asking.

But sometimes we (myself included) get so wrapped up in what we are doing, everything we have to do, and all of our commitments and obligations that we forget to ask for help. We grumble and complain about everything we have to do and how we can never get it all done when there are people around us that might just be willing to help us out.

We only see what is “wrong” that we forget to simply look around for someone to help. Or, we expect our loved ones and friends to psychically know they are somehow hurting or bothering us with a particular behavior, and then we get upset when they don’t stop. Nine times out of ten, people are more than willing to assist, help or even change. We just have to ask.

Remember to ask for what you need. Ask for help. Ask for whatever would make your life easier or more pleasant. But ASK! You will find it makes your life so much better. Yes, you may need to make yourself a little vulnerable. You might be denied. That’s okay—isn’t it worth it for the vast majority of times that things will actually work out in your favor and your life will be better off for it? It’s doesn’t hurt to ask!

TODAY: What is happening in your life that might shift, change, or be alleviated by just asking for what you need or desire? What is stopping you from asking? Get over yourself and ask for what you need—you will be pleasantly surprised at the number of times you will actually receive it!

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