Being a Yes!
It’s a delicate balance.
Every day presents you with so many choices. When to say “yes.” When to say “no.” When to say “maybe” and put off deciding.
The right choices are often not all that clear, and yet, as it was for the traveler in Robert Frost’s poem … The Road Not Taken … the path you choose can make all the difference.
Each choice you make influences the direction of your life. Some choices affect it slightly, some profoundly. But unless you’re like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day, you’ll never know how things might have turned out had you made different choices along the way.
So, are we left to make the best choices we can and learn to love the outcome? Yeah, I think so. I think that’s a powerful message in and of itself.
But we can also learn to make bigger and better choices and that’s what I want to talk about. Not in terms of making fewer “mistakes” or more good calls on specific decisions, but by being truly open to possibilities you might have routinely and reflexively rejected or resisted up until now.
You have to be in the game. You have to move past the fear, quiet all the chatter and be a ‘Yes’ to life.
Being a yes means a couple of things … being receptive to doing things in ways you haven’t done them before and being open to paths you might have rejected before, for whatever reason. It also means going forward with something challenging when it would be easy to reconsider out of fear and say no thanks.
It doesn’t mean saying yes to everything or saying yes out of a sense obligation or not wanting to disappoint.
What you want to look out for is the no or maybe that comes from playing small or operating from a mindset of limitation or preconceived notions.
Did you know that one of the greatest singers of all time, Nat “King” Cole, started out as a piano player? He didn’t sing. In his mind, he wasn’t a singer. He was happy fronting his trio. Then, one night, a customer in the bar he was playing in insisted that he sing a particular song. Cole politely said no a couple of times and told the man he didn’t sing, but the customer was having none of it and kept pressing. You know the rest of the story.
The piano player became a yes to becoming a singer. And in that moment, Nat Cole’s life changed forever, and so did the lives of the millions whose experience on earth was a little bit richer for having been lucky enough to hear him.
Even at a more mundane level, life is more fun when you’re a yes. Do you want to go to the concert of the artist you know nothing about? Yes. Do you want to try the Burmese restaurant? Yes. Do you want to dance the Watusi, even if somebody might think you look stupid? Yes. Do you want to buy a picture that speaks to your heart, even if it’s pretty pricey. Absolutely … yes!
Do things always work out? Of course not. But nothing ventured, nothing gained. Let me tell you a little story.
This was 8 years ago. I was about as busy as I cared to be. Along with my coaching, training, and speaking, I’d chosen to pursue an advanced coaching certification. There’s a lot of work involved. So, when I found out about an opportunity to enter the Faculty Training Program for Coach University, which would mean even more work, what do you think I said?
I said YES! I said yes when I could have easily said no, but you know what? It never crossed my mind. I never hesitated. This coach was an instant yes to becoming a faculty member … and I’m thrilled I did it.
Teaching Coach U classes has been so rewarding and fun. And I think I’ve made a difference. I can’t imagine that not being a part of my life and work. And what if I’d said no?
The bottom line: When you’re truly being a yes, good things happen. So, here’s my challenge to get you started embracing this mindset.
In the next couple of days, be a yes to things. Be a yes to anything that isn’t just plain stupid or risky and see what happens. If someone offers you some exotic looking food you’ve never tried before, say yes. If someone proposes changing the way you do things, consider it. If someone asks you to dance … I hope you’ll dance.
It’s a small experiment, but I’m betting it’ll change your perspective and even your experience of world enough to provide some valuable insights.
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