Even if you haven’t seen Yes Man with Jim Carey, you likely know the premise: a man who normally says no to everything, starts saying yes. We journey along with him as he begins saying yes to EVERYTHING. He learns a few things:
- That saying yes to everything can be riddled with disasters.
- That it feels uncomfortable.
- That he experienced incredible things he would never have.
There is power in saying yes to things we would rather say no to. Many different things. However, the one I want to share with you today is perhaps the most important, and it’s a biggy.
You’ll open yourself up to opportunities that you don’t see for yourself. But others do.
Many times, women will opt out of opportunities like a promotion or new position because they don’t think they’re qualified. Conversely, most times men will jump forward at the opportunity even if they don’t feel qualified. Sheryl Sandberg shares research in her book, Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, that most women feel they need to wait until they have all of the skills required for the position when men tend to leap knowing that they will develop the skills along the way. Sandberg shares women can be tapped on the shoulder and asked to apply and yet, will often choose not to.
Someone else saw something in those women that they couldn’t see for themselves. People who love us can often see bigger possibilities for us than we can see for ourselves. What if they are inviting us to step forward into that possibility? What if we choose not to?
Consider who you’re really saying no to
Often, we think we’re saying no to someone else but really, we’re saying no to ourselves.
Pay attention to what you’ve said no to
Make a list of all of the things you’ve said no to over the past week or month or year. Look at your list and see what patterns you can detect. When you know the pattern, you can recognize it the next time it shows up. Because it will show up.
Pay attention to why you said no
Listen to the reasons you say no to something. Really listen. This could be tricky. Don’t listen to your rationalizations for why you couldn’t do something—we can rationalize anything. Listen to the voices in your head that spoke up when you were presented with the opportunity. If you’re like most people, the voices likely said things like, “You’re not good enough.” Or “There’s no way I could do that.”
Notice what emerges the next time you feel like saying no
The next time you realize you’re about to say no, consider why. Ask for a bit of time before responding so you can check in with yourself. Are you saying no because of fear? Discomfort? Because you think you’re not good enough? If so, you may want to consider saying yes. If there are legitimate reasons to say no, that’s fine too. Sometimes, a no to others is a yes to ourselves.
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