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When YES creates opportunities

So often we are encouraged to say “No”: when we are asked to do more work; to volunteer for more tasks for the PTA; to give yet another lift to your teenaged son when the train station is within walking distance; to loan more money to a serial shopper. I have often recommended people are aware of when they are saying “Yes” but really mean no, or feel obliged to agree to something when they are already frazzled.

However, what if I were to say that saying “Yes” can also be empowering. Of course I don’t mean saying yes to staying in the office to answer the phones whilst your colleagues to go the pub to celebrate a team success: that is certainly the time you say “No”, but those situations where your little voice is saying “No, No, NO!!!” and in fact it could open a door to push you forward.

I remember having a phone call at the beginning of September, 4 years ago from an acquaintance. I had met her because she had invited me to guest lecture at for her university. It turned out that the lecturer for one module of a course had pulled out a week before university started. Would I like to deliver this module. EEK!! Not only had I never delivered a module at university, but the module HAD NOT BEEN WRITTEN and it was not in a subject I believed I knew much about: Event Management. I asked her to give me 12 hours and wrote the pros and cons to the opportunity. IN the end I said YES, and I have absolutely no regrets because the experience and confidence I acquired outweighed the hard work and at times feeling I had taken on more than I could chew. It would have been easy to say NO: to say that I was busy, that I didn’t know the topic – in fact I knew significantly more than I thought, and as a result I developed new skills and pushed myself to the next level. On this occasion it didn’t lead to further lecturing (other than as a guest lecturer) but that was through choice, but I am so grateful for the opportunity. AND I still keep in touch with a couple of the students who are doing really well.

Recently I was invited to be the joint president of the East of England Professional Speakers Association (PSA). It was a phone call and I was genuinely surprised and flattered. I asked to have a think about it and then said YES within 30 minutes. I could easily have found excuses but recognised the benefits of stepping up, and this will help me with my own personal and professional journey.

So next time you are asked to do something, take a moment to assess whether it is you being taken for granted, or whether it is scary but could be a brilliant opportunity. If necessary take a moment to write down the pros and cons, and if it still feels scary DO IT: SAY YES!!

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