The Magic of Saying the Right "Yes"

I remember about 10 years ago sitting in a hairdresser’s chair with foils sticking out around my head, looking as if I’d stuck my finger in an electric socket. 

My hairdresser had asked me about my career as a television anchor (oh so glamorous at that particular moment) wondering if I would always want to work in television. I remembered saying:

“No. I really want to help women reinvent: show them ways to get unstuck and move toward their dreams which they keep putting on the back burner. I want to help them get what they really want and deserve in their lives.”

At the time I said this, I was feeling pretty stuck myself. I was on a treadmill of doing nightly news that seemed increasingly superficial and seeing my family less and less often. I desperately needed to reinvent my life.

A half a world away, and what seems like a lifetime since that day at the hairdresser's, I finally realized that I'd reached my goal.  

What a feeling of satisfaction. But I can never just leave a feeling unexamined, so I asked myself, “how exactly did this happen?”

First, I noted that it took almost a decade. 

And during that time, there were many Baby Steps that led me from there to here.  When I looked at them closely, it became clear that it wasn't always about making strategic decisions.  Often it was far simpler than that. 

I kept saying one word over and over: “yes”.

“Yes” when someone saw me Emcee and suggested I train to become a public speaker when I was at the height of my news career.

“Yes” when my husband was offered a job in New Zealand, which required I leave behind that successful career - and without ever having set foot in this wonderful little country.

“Yes” when after just a few short months of enjoying some newfound free time, I was asked to start a brand new business.

To be clear, these all fall under the category of an empowering "yes".

It's critical to distinguish it from the pressured "yes", which is obligation-laden and can cost you.

I know this all too well. 

The truth is, I’m always being cautioned that I say “yes” too much - because there are times in my life when I get far too busy, end up way too stressed and make mis-steps - even end up falling ill.

Clearly, I'm still working on myself.

While I've learned not to say “yes” out of obligation, or when I feel pressured, I still say “yes” out of curiosity, and a need not only to satisfy that curiosity, but also my drive to "do".

There's nothing inherently wrong with those impulses, it's just that we need to figure out what ones to follow and which not to.  Which give you the best "bang for the buck", to be American about it.

Here's what helps me: I now look to see if the opportunity is one that pushes an "obligation" button or triggers a "should".  Is it one that appeals to my ego, rather than my higher self?  If it doesn't do any of those things, then I make sure it matches my talents and/or passions and/or  values.  If the opportunity does seem to align with who I am, what I do, and what I value, then “yes” is my default response.  If it doesn't match one of those layers, my answer is “no”. 

Sometimes, though, you just can't know how well aligned you are with an opportunity until you've tried it. I’ve always argued I can’t just say “no” until I know what I’m saying “no” to. That means I've made some commitments that stretched my time and sometimes patience. It eventually became clear that the opportunity I agreed to was just asking too much. 

Finally, sometimes even though the opportunity does, on paper, seem to align with who I am, what I do, and what I value, I have a gut reaction that's trying to warn me to say "no". LIsten closely. Examine if that's your wiser self whispering to you or if, in fact, that "no" is fear driven.  
When you do learn how to tune into the right "yes", you will find it opens doors. 

I coach my clients to knock on doors and see which ones open as they look for a way forward. Only then do they have a real choice, and they can make the right choice by asking the same questions I listed above. The more you refine this process, the more you will find doors just open themselves. 

That's where the magic lies. 


Because I've said "yes" to empowering opportunities,  more just seem to come my way - to do exactly what I said wanted to: helping women reinvent and lead extraordinary lives.

So, go ahead and say "yes" to empowering opportunities and see where it leads you...


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