The other day I was walking through a park near my house. About halfway through my walk, a cute little boy walked up to me with a ball and ask, “Will you play soccer with me?” It only took an instant to say, “Well yeah, sure I will.”
We ended up practicing goal-making and goal-guarding. He told me his name is “Steve” and had to check that I wasn’t making up the fact that mine is too. He told me that I was the only one who consented to play with him. He asked many people but they all said they were too busy to play.
We kept playing, moving on to the basketball court for a game of “21”, the rules of which were modified significantly by this creative, little nine-year-old mind. Then over to the slide and monkey bars. After about an hour of sweat and laughter, I walked him back to his grandparents who were fishing on the shore. I told them what a delightful grandson they had and bid them good-bye.
As I walked back home, I felt exhilarated for a couple reasons. One, because I received much better (and entertaining) exercise than I normally get on a leisurely walk. But most of all, I felt honored to have been asked to spend what I consider to be really quality time with this new young friend. I also thought how courageous it was for this tiny little man to walk up to a stranger, four times his size and six times his age and ask them to play with him. How beautiful to make such an honest and humble request, one that really that impacted me, not the one who ask but, but the one who accepted it.
The Act of Making Requests is Not Always Only for You
You now may be asking, how is this a lesson for those of use leading and working with groups in the workplace? I’m not exactly sure yet in this instant, but I know there’s something to it. Why? Because this is what’s emerging and what I’m compelled to share. Here we go:
• When something unplanned emerges in your group, in your workplace, or in your life, what do you do with it? Do you resist it, deny it, accept it, or try to control it,? What if you were to assume that this is the intelligence of life speaking, and you chose to open to it, embrace it, and listen to its message? How often do things go as you planned anyway?
• How often do we avoid making simple and honest requests to avoid any number of fears? The fear of rejection? The fear of showing our vulnerability? Or maybe worse, the fear of having our request granted? What are we really protecting here and why? While I too sometimes avoid asking for help or making requests, when I do, the feeling is always one of invigoration and freedom. And, I often feel very much the same way when granting someone’s request.
• What are you so busy about? And is it really as important as you think it is? In my experience, busyness often has as much to do with avoiding the most important tasks and gifts in front of us, as it does with anything ultimately important.
• What price might you be paying, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, creatively, by ignoring or denying the potential wisdom and vibrance concealed in uninvited happenings? Personally, it’s taken me many decades of struggle to come to the decision that I will no longer busy myself at the expense of who and what needs nurturing and attention right now, right in front of me. Offering immediate attention to people or situations asking for it right now are apparently what is most needed most by Life right now. Especially when these requests come from children, crying out for, or even kindly asking for attention. I can think of no greater contribution I can make in this world than to honor such humble requests.
What simple little request might you make this week that you’ve been denying yourself? Please share your thoughts, stories, and experience in the comments section below. I’d love to hear from you!