The Power of Yes

“Yes-let’s said Tigger, bouncing a little, even though he had no idea what was to be begun. He liked to be asked to do things, and he liked to be asked to do them first, and he always said “yes,” because it is much more interesting when you do.”

-David Benedictus, Return to the Hundred Acre Wood

As leaders (or community members, parents, friends), deciding where to spend our physical and emotional energy can be daunting. So much of the self-help literature seems to be teaching us how to say “no” to the wrong things so we have more time to say “yes” to the “right” things.

That makes sense.

What can be more difficult is knowing the difference. Sometimes the most illogical opportunities can provide the most fascinating experiences. Sometimes the growth comes precisely because the opportunity is out of our comfort zone, or because we have to completely rearrange our lives to make room for it.

Yes can be scary. 

Yes leads to opportunity.

A Story of Yes

I recently got involved in writing and directing a children’s musical for our church. An out of the box “yes” project for me for sure. On the surface, there was absolutely no room in my life for this, but it was an amazing experience. The kids and volunteers were fantastic. I must say, we put on a heck of a show.

But then, came the real “yes” or “no” question. We had performed the show one evening, deconstructed (and thrown away) most of the set, and a few weeks had gone by when I got a call from my minister. “Would we reprise the show for a church service?”

Everyone who knows me well and cares about me had the same reaction, “say no.” They saw how the show consumed me the first time. On the surface it did not make sense, the logistics of pulling this off again, with the kids out of practice, many of the volunteers gone, limited set. Something made me say, “yes.”

What happened next was one of the most magical moments of my year. We found enough of the set to make it look fun, the kids all stepped up to practice like crazy on their own, they managed themselves backstage without a lot of parent volunteers, the congregation was absolutely packed and the kids had a blast and received a standing ovation. As I was standing there after the service, I had tears in my eyes and thought, “I almost said, no.”

Sometimes saying no can prevent us from stretching ourselves or working past the surface difficulties. I will surely still say “no” to many things, but I have learned the value of thinking well and deep before I do.

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Karin Hurt

Karin Hurt, is CEO of Let’s Grow Leaders and a former Verizon Wireless executive. Karin was named on Inc.’s list of 100 Great Leadership Speakers for Your Next Conference, the American Management Association List of 50 Leaders to Watch, and as a Trust Across America Top Thought Leader in Trust. She’s the award-winning author of two books, Winning Well: A Manager’s Guide to Getting Results— Without Losing Your Soul, and Overcoming an Imperfect Boss. She’s regularly featured in business publications including Fast Company, Entrepreneur, and Inc.

7 Comments

  1. Sometimes being the only one to say yes, produces the best outcome. I remember being put up with this situation at church, and putting up pros and cons. In the big picture, the only cons were having less set than we might have hoped for. But that didnt stop us. Somethings need to be pushed to the edge, just to see them soar.

    ~Ben

  2. There are times when I give an immediate response. This tells me I’m absolutely sure about the decision.

    Other times I give the decision serious contemplation.

    I enjoyed your story about the play. It’s a wonderful experience. Yes? I can relate.

    Seven years ago I was asked to produce a play for community theatre. I had worked on a few plays doing set construction, sound engineer, selling ads, etc. My first reaction was no. Two weeks later they asked me again and I said ok not knowing what I was doing.

    To date, I’ve produced eight plays and been involved in another four or so.

    I’m glad the board of directors was persistent with me. They saw dormant potential within me that I couldn’t see.

  3. Steve,
    Wow, what a fantastic story. And, yes, the whole play scene was wonderful experience. Sounds like we should share some stories. I love the concept of dormant potential…. it is so exciting when that emerges.

  4. Ben, you are a role model fo saying “yes” and I have enjoyed watching you grow from it. Namaste.

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