Asking And Deserving

Oh it’s summertime, the living is easy, and I’m off to Winter Park for the trainings, wishing you were joining us.

Since you aren’t, I have a couple of entertaining and thoughtful stories and metaphors for you. The next few are from the mind of Steve Andreas, and more specifically from his collection of stories “Is There Life Before Death?”

Asking and Deserving

“You don’t ask, you don’t get.” – Yiddish saying.

This used to be a tough one for me. Raised with some fundamentalist beliefs about modesty and self-denigration (camel and eye of the needle, etc.), asking for what I wanted was a very chancy proposition. We were encouraged to make any requests very modest, and to be sure we wouldn’t be depriving anyone else of their desires or putting ourselves ahead of anyone.

In this story from his youth, Steve beautifully describes how asking without expectation, almost in a spirit of curiosity, can be quite rewarding.

In the second essay, “Deserving” Steve offers a very interesting and provocative frame for the concept of “deserving.” He makes a really strong point about a much more useful definition of the term than you may have gotten in your upbringing, and certainly more useful than I received in mine.

These stories are excerpted from the book “Is There Life Before Death?”


Tom Dotz


As a dirt-poor graduate student at Brandeis University in the late 1950’s, I often walked along the Charles River. Much of the shoreline was undeveloped woods, but one area was dotted with large homes, set in broad lawns sloping down to boat docks.

At one of these docks there was always an aluminum canoe, upside down to keep out the rain. Time after time I imagined enjoying paddling that canoe along the river.

Finally one day I put my imagination to somewhat better use; I imagined walking up to the door of the house and asking if I could use it. I also went on to imaging the probably refusal and the disappointment I would feel.

After several days of doing this, I went even further to imagine the much less likely alternative, that the canoe’s owner might agree to let me use it. With both alternatives in mind, I could compare them.

On the one hand, almost certain probability of refusal and a few moments of disappointment. On the other hand, the very slim chance of agreement, and hours and hours of canoeing pleasure.

Looking at it this way I had a great deal to gain, and very little to lose, so I walked up to the door and knocked.

Much to my surprise, the people who owned the canoe actually welcomed my request. They had often thought about how little they used the canoe, and wished that more people could enjoy it.

I enjoyed canoeing often during the rest of that summer, and the next summer as well, exploring the river from miles both upstream and down.

Since then I have explored many other unlikely possibilities, especially when it took very little effort, and the possible benefit was large.

Most of these yielded nothing in return, but the few that did made it well worthwhile. Ask not, and you get not; ask, and you shall receive; at least, some of the time. ”


Most people think they deserve something if they worked hard for it, or if they want it very badly or if they have the money to buy it.

And often they use this “deserving” as a reason why someone else should give them something.

However, the only relevant factor in “deserving” something is being able to appreciate it. If you can fully appreciate something, then you deserve it.

I don’t deserve a bottle of fine wine, even thought I could buy it, because I don’t enjoy wine.

Even if I bought it and drank it, I wouldn’t really have it, because it would mean nothing to me. That would truly be casting “pearls before swine.”

But if I can appreciate a painting, I deserve it because I respond to it and find it beautiful. And because I can appreciate it, I can truly have it fully, even when I can’t buy it and own it.

If you want to deserve things, learn to appreciate them, and they will be yours.

(With thanks to Leslie LeBeau, who taught me about deserving)

During 30 years of writing researching and teaching NLP Steve Andreas collected a series of stories and metaphors. Some he wrote himself, others came from sources all over the world, poets and authors, therapists and mystics.

He used them as examples of different patterns, of the power of metaphor, and sometimes just for an entertaining distraction for the conscious mind. A few years ago he gathered the entire collection between two covers titled “Is There Life Before Death?”

If you’d like your own collection of these “Steve stories” I have some hard cover copies of “Is There Life Before Death?” that I bought at a really great price. They were pushed to a back corner of the warehouse and I completely forgot about them until we started packing for the trainings.

Due to an odd packaging they were packed in twos and I got a really great “remainder” type price on them I’m sharing with you. Originally $19.95 in hardcover, you get two copies for just $9.95 plus postage. That’s like 75% off.

(What to do with the extra copy? Surely you know at least one person who likes stories. Even my Mom would like these 🙂

Click Here to find out more and get yours: “Is There Life Before Death?”

3 thoughts on “Asking And Deserving”

  1. This color blue with black ink on it is totally unreadable. Cannot see the wonderful words of wisdom. Can you lighten up the color or make white ink?

    1. Hi Ginny,
      I don’t see anything like black on blue. The post is in black text on white background. Perhaps some settings on your computer were changed?

  2. Thanks so much for reminding me of these articles! I encourage anyone reading this to buy and appreciate this book. “Asking” is one of my favorite articles from this gem. I’d forgotten the “Deserving” article – perhaps it is time to re-read this delightful book!

    BTW, the article “Tears” gave me permission to cry, which is part of living fully, one of my mottos.

    Thanks for all you do.

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