Misadventure: Al Jarreau, No Money, Needing a Ride Home
UNDOing so I Have More Time and Space for Adventure.

Make Unreasonable Requests that Aren’t

This is an excerpt from my book, Two Weeks to a Breakthrough, except that I’ve added a few annotations to it. Making unreasonable requests, is still among the more effective suggestions I have used and shared. It’s an important part of my regimen to have a more misadventurous life.

Making Unreasonable Requests

Ask and ye shall receive, right? Making unreasonable requests is not as unreasonable as it may seem. I use the term unreasonable here to mean big. Unreasonable requests are big requests that you are generally too chicken to make. Chapter Four offers several examples and techniques for making unreasonable requests.

Lisa: I will not leave you hanging - I’ve included that excerpt from Ch 4 below in this post.

Outrageous requests make magnificent things happen. And talk about a bridge? A well-formulated request, when accepted by the person you ask, can reroute your progress and enable you to zoom to success. Unreasonable requests that are turned down can also serve as important catalysts because often a compromise solution is offered that is still higher than you would have expected. Making great requests is perhaps the easiest and fastest way to produce breakthroughs.

Lisa: The bridge is a metaphor for a catalyst. When breakthroughs happen, the misadventure amps up.

Mahatma Gandhi said, “If you don’t ask, you don’t get it,” and I believe this is true. I have a weekly routine that has proven very successful. Each week I make several unreasonable requests designed to move various goals and projects forward. I have had some amazing things happen because of my requests. Most people want to help if they can and get a charge out of granting the request. Sometimes my requests are catalysts that enable the other person to experience a breakthrough! A granted request creates an immediate shift in circumstances and bolsters your goals and direction. Even if only one in ten unreasonable requests get granted, it will catalyze a new reality.

Lisa: I can’t say I still do this weekly. But you can bet that I return to this practice anytime I need to get out of a slump or to create something new. Now here’s the information referenced above from Chapter 4.

Making Requests

The types of requests I find make the biggest difference are not the “give me” kind, although sometimes you should ask for something you need. Most of the time, you will be requesting someone’s time, ideas, connections, counsel, projects, accommodations, mentoring, or participation. Here are a few examples of these requests:

  • Time: I am working on a project and would like to bounce a few ideas off you. May I buy you coffee one day this week so we can chat (or may I ask for thirty minutes of your time over the phone)?
  • Ideas or information: I would like to help improve the workplace and would like your ideas. I’m inviting a few people for a brown bag lunch brainstorming session. Can you attend?
  • Connections: I would like to build my online business. Can you suggest a few people I should get to know in this field?
  • Counseling and mentoring: You are one of the best in your field. Would you be willing to mentor me? Perhaps we could start with a thirty-minute phone conversation or chat over coffee?
  • Projects: I want to develop my skills in this area and would like to participate on the XYZ project because I think it would help me and I could contribute to the group’s success. I would lead the group if that’s preferable. Can you help me get on this project?
  • Accommodations: I am working on a goal important to me and that will make a big difference. Over the next month, I would like to change my schedule so the project will fit in. I have worked it out, so this change does not affect my other projects. Can I get your approval to: _____________?
  • Participation: I am working on a book called ________. I have attached the book proposal for your review. I have great respect for your work and would love to have you write the foreword.

Lisa: I realize your options and techniques might be different now as we go through this pandemic. Also, now that I’m older and more likely to be asked to mentor, I’d like to change my suggestion above. I don’t think that asking someone to be your mentor is the way to go because for the receiver it could feel LARGE. Yes, we’re talking about making big requests, but many people feel that being a mentor requires a lot of time. Start with a request to discuss something specific that the other person knows about and then see if you have chemistry and an interest in having another discussion.

The best requests are win-win. I have created new jobs for myself several times throughout my career and my employers accepted the ideas because I could explain how the changes would benefit the company. Requests are powerful and few people make enough of them. Two Weeks to a Breakthrough program participants often have trouble coming up with requests. But once they get started, their creative floodgates open and they never look back.

A request is a question. Questions elicit responses. Are you afraid of making requests because you might not like the answer? Do you feel uncomfortable responding to rejection? How you respond to yes, no, and maybe is important. Try this:

Request:… can I buy you coffee and pick your brain?

Their response: Yes.

Your response: Fabulous, thanks so much. What day and time work best for you?


Request:… can I buy you coffee and pick your brain?

Their response: No, I am sorry I don’t have the time.

Your response: No problem, thanks for considering. Is there a book or trade magazine that you would recommend I read to learn more about the field?

Their response: Sure, pick up…

Your response: Fabulous, thanks so much. I will check it out.


Request:… can I buy you coffee and pick your brain?

Their response: No, but I am speaking at the university next week if you want to check me out there.

Your response: That sounds perfect. How can I register?

Yes, no, and maybe are all good responses to requests. The better you respond to rejection, the more those rejections will morph into different possibilities! If they accept your request, show genuine appreciation and excitement. This will make people feel great about helping you. If someone does not accept your request, do not be disappointed and do not make them feel guilty. This keeps us from making future requests. Instead, thank the person for their consideration, and if appropriate, ask for an alternative suggestion. Your demeanor should be matter of fact and open.

Requests are not always successful. In fact, expect most requests to be rejected. But it makes an enormous difference when people agree to your request. Email questions to your favorite authors or business leaders. Attend author readings in your area. Attend free webinars that get your creative juices flowing. Get out there and get to know the people who can help you move your goal forward.

When I make unreasonable requests, I will often start with the following sentence: “Feel free to say no to this request. It’s no problem at all; I know you are very busy. That said, I would be thrilled if you said yes.” I mean every word of this. I do not expect people to agree to my requests, but they often do. I flap, they flap, and next thing you know, the forecast has changed.

Lisa: The flapping, here, is referring to the butterfly effect—that small directionally correct actions can make big things happen. I hope you make at least one unreasonable request this week.


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