• Gina Greenlee, Author

Create Some Work for the Asker



Helen asked if I would circle journey with her. Circle journeying is an interactive art journal traded back and forth until complete. I had already committed to not circle journeying anymore. Apart from the novelty wearing off, with one exception I had initiated circle journeys with four different people. During that exciting time when actively engaged in the exchange, I would bring it up in conversation. Some said, “I’d like to try that.” With that single, casual comment, previously overfunctioning Gina leapt into action: ran home, whipped up a circle journal in an evening and then mailed it next day to the person who said only, “I’d like to try that.”


No more.


I’m game for another interactive art trade but not by dragging others along. A casual mention no longer prompts me to initiate without provocation.


I wish to connect with people from whom I can learn in all aspects of life. That won’t happen if I don’t open space for them to show up. To attract initiators, I must step back from my natural tendency to lead by choosing at times to follow.


In Robert Glazer’s LinkedIn blog post, Warren Buffett and Tim Ferriss Say No Almost All of the Time – Here’s Why It’s A Key to Success, he writes:


“Create Some Work for the Asker


Let’s face it, some people want your time and energy without showing a willingness to invest much time or effort of their own. That’s why some very successful people I know have shared that they create a bit of a hurdle for askers.


For example, if a person wants to meet, ask him to check back in a month or so to see if he follows through. Most of the time, you will never hear back. Personally, when people ask me for help finding a job or seeking an introduction, I always ask them to do some research; tell me whom they want to be connected to in my network and provide a paragraph for the introduction. Almost everybody fails to respond to my request, and I don’t want to give my time to people who are unwilling to do their part…it’s vital to remember that protecting your time is not selfish; it’s essential to your well-being and success.


There’s great value in learning how to set limits without guilt. In the end, you might discover that saying no is the best way to say yes to something that will enable you to make your biggest contribution.


As Greg McKeown, author of Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less said best, ‘“Your obligation is to the highest point of contribution you can make.’”


So, when Helen asked me again if I would circle journey with her, this told me two things:

  1. She’d been thinking about it and was plugged in.

  2. She asked me directly. No sprinkling hints.


Now I was ready and eager to engage.


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