Every time I decide to write about my “Rules to Live By,” this is where I get stuck. It’s a simple enough piece of advice, and yet I’ve struggled with it throughout much of my life.
The first time I heard this nugget of wisdom articulated this way, I’d just begun working as an apprentice at a theater company. The job began as most do, with a formal sit-down that included going through an employee handbook and an overview of the way the theater worked, followed by a tour of the space.
What made this experience different though was the outlining of best practices. The apprenticeship turned out to be a gauntlet run, a trial by fire. It was a job padded with the perks of education. Sure, I was scrubbing toilets, but I was also taking classes in acting and playwriting and directing. And one of the cornerstones of the experience became this piece of advice: ask for what you want.
Want the tech director to lead a class in Jujutsu? Ask.
Want the stage manager to teach you how to do aerial silks? Ask.
Want that internship with the Artistic Director? Ask.
Want a few days off to drive to New York and see a Broadway show? Ask.
After all, the worst someone can say is “no.” And as much as it terrifies all of us, “no” isn’t really all that bad.