Sure death awaited me in the abyss. Immobilized by fear, my feet were stones. My nine-year old instincts warned me: water beneath Camp Hilltop’s swim dock would rush into my head as gravity dragged me to its three-foot bottom. I stood petrified on NO.
It was silly then. It’s even sillier now. Because, even today I occasionally allow NO to keep me high and dry from new ideas, opportunities, or adventures. Confession is good for the soul. That’s why this is my first post of the new year. It’s a challenge to me—and you.
Say yes till you have to say no
That’s how my HomeShow radio buddy Tom Tynan and I began working together over 27 years ago. “Say yes till you have to say no,” he said to my idea of doing the show independent of a radio station. It’s become one of our guiding principles. But, it’s a tough one to hold onto.
Yes and no is as different as open and close. Yes adds wood to the fire. No snuffs it out. Yes recently led me into a grand adventure with 30 like-minded entrepreneurs.
Starting in September, the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program taught us smart ways of saying yes to growing our businesses. We spent 13 weeks crafting growth strategies, each of us emerging with renewed vigor and a specific action plan—some of which were different from what we originally envisioned.
Saying yes doesn’t mean staying yes
The only commitment of yes is a single step. Stepping off Camp Hilltop’s dock didn’t mean underwater swimming. It was just a step. That got me into the water. Yes is just a step that may lead to another until you have to say no.
Yes walks in balance with a possibility of no. Yes opens doors or brings you to a locked one. What then? Find another way or let it go. Either way, what was revealed along the way?
Great opportunities often lurk behind crappy ones. Just as bad experiences give birth to great stories, a bad idea can lead you to uncover a better one.
The only answer worse than no
Maybe. I can’t count the times I’ve heard it used as a slow no. There’s nothing worse. The good news is a slow no easy to spot.
When conversation pivots backward toward the known, or forward momentum is routinely denied, you’re caught in the clutches of a slow no. That’s when you say no and move on.
Nothing attracts non-believers like a believer. Same goes for yes. It will ultimately lead you out of the comfort zone. No worries. That’s where growth happens. You ask. You follow. You win. Or, you don’t. Just keep finding ways to say yes to something more.
Leap and the opportunity will appear
I can’t recall the counselor’s name who encouraged me to step off that dock 46 years ago. But, I remember his lesson: you must step off from the known or be stuck where you are.
I thought of him years later opening my PADI Open Water Dive Card before diving the Cathedrals of Lanai. And again today, stepping off into my growth plan and a new year. You just never know where yes will lead.