As its the first day of august and London is experiencing another steamy day I hope you dont mind if I share a thought about something seemingly simple that I think is quite powerful.
Joining the UK House of Lords is quite an intimidating experience – it is a place that operates with many rules but it is the ones that are not written down that are often the most important. I have had lots of incredible advice and most of the peers I have met have been immensely helpful, kind and generous. But I think the one thing I have tried to keep in my head all the time is “JUST ASK”. It sounds so easy but it can be hard to do. I have bothered the lovely security guards with directions, the brilliant attendants outside the chamber with points of order clarification and every peer I have met I have questioned about their advice to a novice. No one has screamed with laughter or rolled their eyes even when I think I have sounded dumb.
Keeping this in my mind I also decided to ask a question in the chamber during the very popular Question Time session that happens every day at 230. You register your question in advance so the government can respond but you get to ask a follow up question that is unscripted. Its nerveracking. The chamber is normally packed and you want to raise a point that sparks debate and is interesting. I asked about how the government is planning to make sure the lowest income households, often the hardest to reach will have the opportunity to learn digital skills. Despite butterflies it went well and other much more senior peers came into the debate – joan bakwell, john reid and patience wheatcroft. I am glad I tried.
I have also realised that it is a very useful strategy in other aspects of my working life that I have sometimes consciously and other times unconsciously been deploying.
I set myself the challenge of trying to raise £100k for http://justforkidslaw.org by the end of this year. As I am not the best at physical challenges I have had to use other tactics. I asked people to donate instead of 40th birthday presents, I held a fundraising party at my home but by far and away the most effective thing I have done is asking organisations for insane amounts of money when I get invited to speak. As I am lucky enough to be in a position where I get asked to a range of events I have started to look at them differently. Rather than turning some down I ask for a massive donation to JFK. Amazingly, most have said yes. Everyone is happy. I feel as though I am doing something meaningful, JFK gets cash and the donator gets my endless support and thanks and blogs and (hopefully) bearable speech on the day. So thank you British Gas particularly for your amazing donation in exchange for my time helping with http://connectinghomes.co.uk – its a great project and means I only have £13k left to my target.
I realise that I am in a very lucky position but I urge you to just ask over anything in your life that feels scary or unlikely – if you ask with politeness and humour I am pretty sure the worst that will happen is someone says no.
So, there is only one thing to do.. would anyone out there like to sponsor me my final chunk?!