Saying Yes vs. Saying No…

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Some thoughts on saying “Yes” vs. saying “No,” on my connecting flight from Panama City, Panama, to Santiago, Chile…

We spend a ridiculous amount of time in our lives saying “no.” We say no to that which we don’t understand, we say no to that which we believe will drag us down, or waste our time, or get us in trouble. It’s almost automatic. We say no to that which we’re not allowed to say yes, usually without questioning, and usually in a business setting. We say no, possibly because it has one less letter than “yes,” and thus saves us one more letter of time in our eternally busy lives.

But what if we said yes a little more?

I get it. “No” is easy. No allows us to get on with our day, secure in the knowledge that something, once presented to us, was analyzed and turned away. And hey, there are times when we should say no. The “can I pick your brain without paying you for your time” requests? Yeah, those are pretty much always a no. Not that I don’t want to help you, and if you’re just starting out, or have one question via email, I’ll always say yes. But I’ve learned to say no to those more often than not, because they negatively impact me. (As they do you, as well.) And that’s fine. There are times to say no. The problem is, I believe the majority of the times we’re saying no, we’re saying no for the wrong reasons.

Saying no because it’s easy is a cop-out, and shouldn’t be in your negative arsenal. Saying no because it’s easier than saying yes denies you the chance to see what could come of the work required by saying yes. It denies you the opportunities that exist by saying yes, and saying no because it’s easy denies you a world of potential benefits.

If I’d said no on October 31st of my Senior Year at Boston University when Lee Safati offered me a 3.5” floppy disk with something on it called “America Online,” I wouldn’t have wound up being the editor of the AOL Newsroom 18 months later. I wouldn’t be anywhere near where I am now.

Saying yes opens a world of doors and potential that saying no shuts down. Saying yes – Whether it be to a five minute coffee with someone just starting out, or to a request for a weight spot at the gym, opens up connections for you that would otherwise remain closed.

Your challenge this week: Say yes to three things where your first instinct is to say no. They don’t have to be brain-busters or time-killers, just three things to which you’d otherwise say no. Then see what happens, and post in the comments what it was, good or bad. I want to know.

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