My friend, Linda Cunningham, runs an art gallery.
Last year, she asked me if I would sit at the desk at the gallery for an hour while she ran some errands. I was happy to help.
While I was tending the gallery, a young man walked in and was looking at the exhibition. I went over to say hello and talk with him about the art.
He told me that he was an artist and that he would love to exhibit his work in the gallery. How, he asked, could he get a show there.
Now, it’s no secret that most every artist would love to get a show at a gallery in New York City. So I almost rolled my eyes and said, “Lots of luck! Every artist who walks in here would love a show.”
A More Constructive Response
But then I thought of something more constructive I could suggest.
“You know”, I said, “instead of trying to get a show at this gallery, why don’t you get in touch with the gallery director and ask if there are ways you might help her with the gallery.”
“It’s a lot of work to run an art gallery. And who knows, working in the gallery — even as volunteer — might open doors for you.”
The man thanked me for my suggestion and off he went. I didn’t even know his name.
I hadn’t given our conversation a second thought, until about a year later when I went to an art opening in Linda’s gallery showcasing the work of three artists.
As I walked around to look at the art, a familiar looking man approached me. He eagerly asked, “Aren’t you the woman who was tending the gallery when I came in last year? You advised me to offer my help to the gallery owner. Do you remember?”
I was taken aback.
“Your advice,” he said, “changed my life. I did exactly what you suggested. I got in touch with Linda. I asked her how I might help her with the gallery. And she put me to work.”
“Working with Linda has turned my life around. I’ve learned a huge amount about running a gallery, and now… look… I even have a show. Thank you so very much!”
And indeed, that man was one of the three artists whose work was on exhibit in the gallery!
Two Lessons from this Story
Lesson One: If you want something from someone, first find out what they need and help them get it. Then, once you see where your request fits their needs and interests, you can ask for what you want.
NOTE: You can also use this approach to get your partner to take you out for dinner.
Lesson Two: When you have an opportunity to help someone, grab it. Few things feel better than having made a difference in someone’s life.
Help Someone This Week and Reap the Rewards
If you have a chance to help someone by sharing a sincere thought or a suggestion, don’t let the opportunity slip by. Sometimes it takes just a little suggestion to make a very big difference in the life of someone else. What’s more, the act of kindness is often rewarded.
Can you think of a time when you offered someone some life-changing advice? Tell me about it in the comments.