There are so many clichés about no. Perhaps two of the most important letters in the alphabet are n and o. No is a complete sentence. Sometimes a strategic no allows for future yeses. The list of advice and praise for no seems endless.
There is truth that saying no to somethings allows you to say yes to your own priorities. A direct ‘no’ can provide more kindness to someone than a vague answer which doesn’t help at all. Some thought influencers of our day have sage advice about saying no:
- John Maxwell: Learn to say no to the good so you can say yes to the best.
- Seth Godin: Just saying yes because you can’t bear the short-term pain of saying no is not going to help you do the work.
- Warren Buffet: We need to learn the slow yes and the quick no.
The flip side, saying yes, is equally attractive to building an adventurous future. Shonda Rhimes’ book, Year of Yes, chronicles her year of saying yes to things outside of her comfort zone and what she learned from that year*. Yes opens the door to creativity and possibilities; things you may never have considered. Some thoughts on saying yes:
- Eckhart Tolle: Always say yes to the present moment…Surrender to what is. Say yes to life – and see how life suddenly starts working for you rather than against you.
- Richard Branson: If somebody offers you an amazing opportunity but you are not sure you can do it, say yes – then learn how to do it later.
- Stephen Colbert: Saying yes leads to knowledge. So for as long as you have the strength to, say yes.
There’s probably a happy balance between yes and no. If you’re first response is typically no, I encourage you to explore saying yes. If you’re first response is always yes, I encourage you to examine that practice and how it is serving you. Either way, only you can judge what works for you.
*Rhimes TED Talk on Saying Yes https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gmj-azFbpkA