If You Don't Ask, You Don't Get -- But If You Do, You Do

If You Don't Ask, You Don't Get -- But If You Do, You Do

From Chicken Soup for the Soul 20th Anniversary Edition

If You Don’t Ask, You Don’t Get —But If You Do, You Do

Problems are not stop signs, they are guidelines.

~Robert Schuller

My wife Linda and I live in Miami, Florida. When we had just started our self-esteem training program called Little Acorns to teach children how to say no to drugs, sexual promiscuity and other self-destructive behavior, we received a brochure for an educational conference in San Diego. As we read the brochure and realized that everybody who is anybody was going to be there, we realized we had to go. But we didn’t see how. We were just getting started, we were working out of our home and we had just about exhausted our personal savings with the early stages of the work. There was no way we could afford the airline tickets or any of the other expenses. But we knew we had to be there, so we started asking.

The first thing I did was to call the conference coordinators in San Diego, explain why we just had to be there and ask them if they would give us two complimentary admissions to the conference. When I explained our situation, what we were doing and why we had to be there, they said yes. So now we had the tickets.

I told Linda we had the tickets and we could get into the conference. She said, “Great! But we’re in Miami and the conference is in San Diego. What do we do next?”

So I said, “We’ve got to get transportation.” I called an airline I knew was doing well at the time, Northeast Airlines. The woman who answered happened to be the secretary to the president so I told her what I needed. She put me directly through to the president, Steve Quinto. I explained to him that I had just talked to the conference people in San Diego, they had given us free tickets to the conference but we were stuck on how to get there and would he please donate two round trip tickets from Miami to San Diego. He said, “Of course I will,” just like that. It was that fast and the next thing he said really floored me. He said, “Thank you for asking.”

I said, “Pardon me?”

He said, “I don’t often have the opportunity to do the best thing that I can for the world unless someone asks me to. The best thing I can ever do is to give of myself and you’ve asked me to do that. That’s a nice opportunity and I want to thank you for that opportunity.” I was blown away, but I thanked him and hung up the phone. I looked at my wife and said, “Honey, we got the plane tickets.” She said, “Great! Where do we stay?”

Next I called the Holiday Inn Downtown Miami and asked, “Where is your headquarters?” They told me it was in Memphis, Tennessee, so I called Tennessee and they patched me through to the person I needed to talk to. It was a guy in San Francisco. He controlled all of the Holiday Inns in California. I then explained to him that we had obtained our plane tickets through the airlines and asked if there were some way he could help us with the lodging for the three days. He asked if it would be okay if he put us up in their new hotel in downtown San Diego as his guest. I said, “Yes, that would be fine.”

He then said, “Wait a minute. I need to caution you that the hotel is about a 35-mile drive from the campus where the conference is being held and you’ll have to find out how to get there.”

I said, “I’ll figure it out if I need to buy a horse.” I thanked him and I said to Linda, “Well, honey, we’ve got the admission, we’ve got the plane tickets and we’ve got a place to stay. What we need now is a way to get back and forth from the hotel to the campus twice a day.” Next I called National Car Rental, told them the story and asked if they could help me out. They said, “Would a new Olds 88 be okay?”

I said it would be.

In one day we had put the whole thing together.

We did wind up buying our own meals for part of the time but before the conference was over, I stood up, told this story at one of the general assemblies and said, “Anyone who wants to volunteer to take us to lunch now and again would be graciously thanked.” About 50 people jumped up and volunteered so we wound up having some of the meals thrown in as well.

We had a marvelous time, learned a lot and connected with people like Jack Canfield, who is still on our advisory board. When we returned, we launched the program and it’s been growing about 100 percent a year. This last June we graduated our 2,250th family from the Little Acorn training. We’ve also held two major conferences for educators called Making The World Safe For Children, to which we’ve invited people from all over the world. Thousands of educators have come to get ideas on how to do self-esteem training in their classrooms while they’re still teaching the three Rs.

The last time we sponsored the conference we invited educators from 81 nations to come. Seventeen nations sent representatives including some ministers of education. Out of that has grown invitations for us to take our program to the following places: Russia, Ukraine, Byelorussia, Gelaruth, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Taiwan, the Cook Islands and New Zealand.

So you see you can get anything you want if you just ask enough people.

~Rick Gelinas

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