Today is 29th February, and as every schoolgirl knows, it is the ONE day in four years, that women can propose to the man (or woman) they wish to marry. It has romantic connotations, but alas no tips on dealing with rejection!

29th February

Of course this tradition started when women had little control over their lives and the strange anomaly of 29th February can’t help to bring a smile on everyone’s faces! Although I am married, I will do a couple of tongue in cheek proposals today, to make the men in my life laugh!

However, this is an opportunity to update the proposal tradition, to the whole concept of ASKING! 29th February shouldn’t JUST be about marriage proposals, but about asking for life changing opportunities. Whether it is a school student asking for help with a university application or “Could you introduce me to xxx because I want to go into law”, through to an elderly person asking their children for help, there are plenty of opportunities for ASKING.

This morning I woke up to the Oscar results. Believe me, the stars will have ASKED for opportunities, roles, contacts. It is easy to think that very successful people will have had an easy time getting to very high levels, but in many many cases, it has involved a lot of hard work; lots of ASKING; lots of disappointments and rejections. It is particularly easy to think that movie stars wait to be asked to star in a role: but this isn’t in the case at all! The key is having the courage to ask for opportunities.

It is said that Madonna constantly asked the Alan Parker, the director and producer for Evita, to be considered; to be screen-tested and shortlisted for the role of Evita. Being a pop star and singer, she hadn’t been considered for the role, and favourites for the role included major music theatres stars at the time. Yet the singer persisted; she knew exactly what she wanted and had a campaign to win the role. And she did! She never gave up, and through asking she won the prize.

The wonderful Sian Young told me a remarkable story about herself. Sian was homeless for seven years. She changed her life around through grit, determination and strength of character. She decided she wanted to study on a specific course at a college, but didn’t have the finance to pay the fees. Having received the glossy brochure for the course, she noticed that one of the patrons was Princess Anne. Sian took the courage to ASK Princess Anne for support; Sian was invited to meet Princess Anne at Buckingham Palace, who took a genuine  interest the wonderful Sian, and found financial support for Sian to participate in the course. This was a life changer for Sian – and it wouldn’t have happened if Sian hadn’t asked. Here is Sian’s business  www.entrepreneurshealthcoach.com

In a smaller way, we were able to sell our house really easily through asking! We had rented our house but had put it on the market. We discovered that our tenants were looking for a house, and had put in an offer of a smaller house in an inconvenient location for schools and train stations. I went to see the tenants to do the 3 monthly ‘check’ and dropped into the conversation that we were selling the house and would they like details. “Oh we didn’t want to ask because we thought the house was outside our price range”. Of course it was within their budget and once they’d discovered this, we were able to sell the house to them! This wouldn’t have happened without me ASKING!

So on 29th February, what could you ask for??

Here are some examples, but please feel free to add some below in the comment box.

  • Ask to apply for that dream job.
  • Ask for advice – your boss is being difficult – so has anyone got some good ideas on how to manage this.
  • Ask for a pay rise.
  • Ask and volunteer for a dream opportunity to raise your profile within your company
  • Ask for that speaking gig!
  • Ask for help in getting out of a tricky situation.

So let’s use this most unusual day: 29th February: it’s time to ask! And remember to put your ideas below.

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Susan Heaton-Wright
About the author

Susan Heaton Wright is a former opera singer who works with successful individuals and teams to make an impact with their voices and physical presence. Using her experience in using the voice and performing on stage, she works with people to improve their performances in a range of business situations; from meeting skills and on the telephone, to public speaking, presentations and appearing on the media.

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