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While getting gas for my car today, I heard a man’s voice ask the older man pumping gas next to me if he could spare 35 cents.
The older gentleman shook his head without giving the man any eye contact, a “no,” or even a grunt.
I knew what was coming next – the man then asked me if I could spare 35 cents.
I have mixed feelings on the subject matter: sometimes I give money to homeless, sometimes I don’t.
Without hesitation I said, “Sure … wait a sec.”
Because he saw that I was still busy with my car, the man replied, “Okay, Thanks” and waited patiently. He then shifted a few steps away as to give me my personal space.
When I was finished, I went into my change container that I use for LA parking meters for all my auditions. At first, I went to grab two quarters….but then I stopped. I then went for a quarter and two nickels.
I handed the tiny amount of change to him. He humbly thanked me, and I said, “No Problem – enjoy the rest of your day.”
He was grateful. And I rode off in my contented car that now had a full belly.
Driving home, I thought about what just happened – and wished I had given the man a LOT more money because he had just taught me many great lessons.
LESSON # 1 ~ ASK FOR WHAT YOU WANT ~
I gave him what he asked for without hesitation because he was straight forward, non-threatening, and specific about what he wanted. PLUS, I also felt that I had permission to say no if I wanted to.
How often do we really do that in our careers? How often do we REALLY ask for exactly what we want?
LESSON # 2 ~ DON’T LET REJECTION STOP YOU ~
He didn’t get what he wanted from his first potential “buyer” but he did not quit. He immediately tried to pitch himself again. This time to me… and I said YES.
How many times do we get what we perceive as rejection and therefore never put our feet in the water again? An actor does a mailing, makes a phone call, attends an event, and if it does not provide the desired result the first or second time, he quits.
Turned out….he just needed to ask the right person. And today, that just happened to be me (the proverbial “right place, right time”).
LESSON # 3 ~ BE SPECIFIC & DON’T SELL YOURSELF SHORT ~
He asked for 35 cents. No more. No less. It was not the standard, “Can you spare some change?” (In actor speak “Can you spare some change” might translate to “Can you refer me to an agent” or “Can you help me with my career?”) Sometimes the “spare change” thing is just too vague. The person in the position of perceived power might feel guilty as if he is not giving enough or that the person is asking for more than he can provide.
Because this man’s request was specific, I said yes. I said yes without hesitation. HE MADE IT EASY FOR ME TO HELP HIM! Hmmmm again.
And here’s the twist:
I was going for the two quarters at first and then ended up giving him just the 35 cents … EXACTLY what he asked for.
I would have given him MORE if he had asked for more.
(within reason of course). Again… a FANTASTIC lesson.
Sometimes actors either sell themselves short when they could have gotten a better day-rate, a better agent, a better life. We can sometimes get more just by simply asking.
LESSON # 4 ~ HELP OTHERS & HELP YOURSELF ~
Perhaps the most valuable lesson of all.
In this situation it was sooo easy for me to help someone else, and I was also happy to do it. But here is an extra benefit … what I got in return far outweighed what I gave away.
FUNNY HOW THE UNIVERSE WORKS THAT WAY.
For the low low price of only 35 cents, I purchased a happy feeling inside AND a great story to share with my fellow actors.
What a deal!
Thank you, Mr. 35-cent Man!
© 2011 Kari Nissena
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