We are all familiar with the concept of ‘Just say no’. From drugs to toxic friendships, to eating a third helping of dessert, no helps us create boundaries to protect ourselves. No draws a line in the sand.
But if no is a boundary fence, yes is the gate that leads to the next field. Safe? I can’t say. But definitely not the same. It takes a level of energy and of courage to say yes sometimes, and in that moment comes an opportunity for something else. This doesn’t mean saying yes to things that physically and emotionally drain you. This is about saying yes to the things that are good for you: opportunities, new experiences, precious moments and fresh ideas.
Yes can happen with your family. My kids, like many today, have busy schedules. In the busy-ness of our lives, it is hard to hear them ask me for quality time let alone remember to respond in the affirmative. I find myself saying yes to all the things that shouldn’t matter as much; laundry, admin and my iPhone, and no to my children because their requests seem so small. But it is those little invitations to say yes that are the most valuable to children. I try to challenge myself to say yes to everything my kids ask me for and see where it takes me. “Mom, will you come with me to my room?”, “Mom, can I go swim?” and “Mom, will you come play with me?” occur with regularity. Yes, yes, yes!
Yes can happen at work. Susie Moore, Confidence Coach in New York says, “Opportunity sometimes knocks gently and does not wait for perfect timing. The truth is, there is no perfect timing! Anything that creates a spark of curiosity within us or generates some desire that typically lays dormant is often our intuition guiding us to say yes (or at least to learn more).”
Sometimes the yes is to take on a new responsibility to help us grow professionally, sometimes the yes is realising it’s time to do something else with our lives, but when we frame these decisions as yeses rather than no’s, we change the whole landscape in which we operate.
Yes can happen in love too. And often in the most gloriously unexpected ways.
Google’s former CEO Eric Schmidt summed up the benefits of yes in a University of California commencement address in 2002: “Find a way to say yes to things. Say yes to invitations to a new country. Say yes to meeting new friends. Say yes to learning a new language, picking up a new sport. Yes is how you get your first job, and your next job. Yes is how you find your spouse and even your kids. Even if it’s a bit edgy, a bit out of your comfort zone, saying yes means you will do something new, meet someone new and make a difference in your life, and likely in others’ lives as well. Yes is a tiny word that can do big things. Say it often.”
Saying yes requires work, commitment and accountability, and sometimes that scares people away, especially if they feel unprepared or unmotivated. But here’s the reality: a yes will always give you more than a no. A no is guaranteed failure. Nothing is ever stagnant, so a no is usually backward progress. Sure, there is no risk in a no… but there’s no fun in it either. Saying yes can be very fun. In the fun is where you find success”
The invitation to say yes can be a small one and can even seem inconsequential, but it could be an opportunity to open a gate that leads out into new and unfamiliar pastures.