The other day I was thinking about this strange profession I’ve chosen and why some people are better at it than others. Why some people get opportunities that others dream about. Why some are able to truly make it a successful career and others fail after trying for years. Then I started to think about my own life, my former jobs and how I was able to do some of the things I did. It all came together though after reading a travel blog post about being a good tourist and the point came up to always ask questions, to always be curious. That’s when it all clicked for me and I realized that the key to success isn’t entirely about talent or luck, it’s about having the courage to ask the right questions.
Why questions are important in travel
The most important quality I believe in any traveler isn’t how savvy they are or how many countries they’ve been to, it’s how curious they are. After all, at the root of our desire to get out there and see the world is (hopefully) an insatiable desire to see and learn. Yet so many times I see travelers locked into a travel bubble of their own making, afraid to venture out. The best way to break through is to start asking questions, interrogating everyone you meet. Talk to cabbies, they’re some of the most fascinating people in the world and will tell you the honest truth about wherever you are. Chat up bartenders and restaurant servers; ask them where they like to eat when they aren’t working. Most importantly, just talk to random people and learn their stories. Understanding the true nature of a new place won’t be gained through visiting famous sites or taking pretty pictures, it will only be gained by talking to the people who live there. It’s not easy at first, I grant you that, but you’ve done the hard part already, you’ve left home and traveled out of you comfort zone. Don’t leave the trip incomplete by ignoring the reason why you left in the first place, to learn and grow as a person. This can only happen if you start asking questions.
Why asking is important in life
In writing this I realized that almost every opportunity that I’ve had afforded me didn’t happen because an email showed up one day in my inbox. It happened because I asked for it. This is true for most of us; isn’t sending in a job application or resume just another form of asking? It’s hard though, so daunting at first that many people try to avoid it altogether. But that I think is the mark of a successful person, having the courage to ask for what they want. That doesn’t mean that it’s always appropriate to ask though. I spent three years growing this web site, devoting hours and hours to it every week not because it made me independently wealthy; far from it. I did it, and still do, because I love it; it’s my passion. I also knew that before I would be able to transition what was at one time a hobby to something resembling a career, that I would need to pay my proverbial dues and spend time learning the skill sets I would one day need. I currently work with a few companies on a regular basis. I got those jobs because I spent years honing my craft and meeting other writers with whom I would later work. I also got the jobs because I asked for them. I was brazen, no doubt about it, but I figured I had nothing to lose so why not ask? More than anything else, I have learned that sometimes it is important NOT to think about how others see you. What is important is to visualize what you want in your life, work hard to get it and many times, asking someone for it.
It seems so simple, just ask. As kids we constantly peppered our parents with seemingly endless questions but at what point did we collectively lose that outspoken desire to ask? I don’t think we ever lose that innocent curiosity, I think it’s always there. But we become trained to either ignore it or keep it in check. While it’s a fine line between asserting yourself and looking like a jerk, it is important to always keep asking, whether it’s to learn about new people or to ask for a dream opportunity.
Has there been a time when just asking for something made all the difference in your own life?