There is a law in cricket – Law 27 (Appeals). It states that – “Neither umpire shall give a batsman out, even though he may be out under the Laws, unless appealed to by a fielder.”
We have seen this law in action many times, when a batsman snicked the ball to the wicket-keeper (or was LBW), but because there was no appeal, the batsman wasn’t given out.
I believe this law applies to our personal and professional lives as well. Here is how I would revise it – “You shall not receive some things in life, unless asked for by you.”
I used this law many years ago during an exciting experience in New Delhi. It was 4:15 in the evening and I was worried. The railway station was a good 90 minutes drive away from where I was and the train I had a ticket for was due leaving in 95 minutes. The bus which would get me to the station should have come at 3.30 PM, but had not come as yet. There were no autos around because of an auto-strike and I couldn’t find any cabs as well (we didn’t have dial-a-cab back then, or at least I wasn’t aware of it). I was going to miss my train for sure.
And then I saw a ‘Blue line’ bus turn the corner and approach the bus-stop. I boarded it as soon as it stopped and bought a ticket to the station. I took my seat, hopeful now that the bus will get me to the station in time. The hope was short-lived. Hardly 10 minutes into the journey, the bus stopped on the road-side. After waiting for 3 long minutes, I lost my patience and went to the driver to ask why the bus had stopped. The driver, with a very straight face, told me that he was waiting for more people to board the bus (so he could sell more tickets) and would only then move. “And how much time will that take?”, I asked. “15 – 20 minutes, maybe more.” Now I was definitely going to miss the train. I tried to plead with the driver, telling him how important it was for me to get on that train, but those words fell on deaf ears.
And then I thought of something else – something silly, something I knew wouldn’t work, but then I decided to ask anyway! I asked the driver if he would be willing to start driving if I paid him for 50 tickets? He looked surprised at what I had just asked. He called the conductor and told him what I had just proposed. After a short discussion they agreed. I paid the conductor and took as many tickets and soon the bus was on it’s way. 70 minutes later the bus stopped outside the railway station and I ran out, thanking the driver. I ran all the way to the platform (I was fortunately traveling light) and boarded the train just as it was leaving the platform.
As I settled in to my seat and thanked my luck and God, I reflected on what had just happened. I was on the train only because I had made that silly-sounding proposal to the driver. I had asked even though I was expecting a ‘No’, but got a ‘Yes’.
Since then, I make a conscious effort to ask for things, even when I think that the answer will be a ‘No!’. Be it the move to Learning & Development, when I didn’t have any experience in it, or working on projects that I was interested in. It even worked when I found the woman I wanted to spend my life with.
Of course it hasn’t always worked out. There have been many ‘No’s as well, but then I was glad that I at least asked.
Those one off times when I was completely unsure about asking, I just told myself – “Let’s appeal. The worst that can happen is – the umpire will say ‘Not out!'”