The power of the Ask

Douglas Mawson – I’m confident most Australasians would have heard of this great Antarctic explorer of the early 20th century who was later knighted for his exploits. Robert Barr Smith, on the other hand, would be largely unknown. However, without Robert Barr Smith, Mawson may not have even recruited a team.

Robert Barr Smith was a businessman and philanthropist, becoming the patron of Mawson’s 1911-1914 expedition. Both Mawson and Barr Smith were connected via Adelaide University, Mawson as a geologist and academic, and Barr Smith as a long-standing member of the University’s Council. Their paths would not have usually crossed unless Mawson did one simple thing – ask. Mawson asked the known philanthropist for financial support. The rest, as they say, is history.

This exemplifies the power of the ask: confidence in your dream, your goals, your purpose to ask for the necessary support to bring reality to vision. Often we can believe strongly in something, for something, yet are afraid of the ask. Fearing rejection, we allow an unknown to disrupt our potential.

If Mawson had not overcome the possibility of a “no”, he would not have pushed the boundaries of human endeavour. Who knows, Mawson may have actually asked many others previously and encountered repeated “no’s”. Regardless, Mawson was committed to his dream, he would not be deterred and understood the power of the ask.

What are you waiting for – find your Robert Barr Smith and ask.


P.S. Read here about the centenary ceremony in honour of Mawson’s expedition

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