One of my guiding principles is “Always Say Yes.”
In first grade I was asked to climb up the stairs to the podium and deliver the readings at our weekly Catholic mass–a terrifying concept for a 7 year old to speak in front of hundreds of people. I hesitated.
The priest told me that giving the readings would help other people to find comfort, support and meaning in their lives. I shook my head in understanding. It’s the first time I recognized that saying “yes” wasn’t really about me—it was about giving something of value to others.
That conversation has shaped who I am as a person and a professional. When I made the transition to move across the country this summer there were lots of opportunities presented to me, from volunteering at commencement, speaking at an Admissions event, accepting an invitation to dinner at a professor’s house and trying new physical challenges like hiking and yoga. I accepted every time. Each experience taught me something new and usually allowed me to give back in some way—the ultimate win-win situation.
I struggle with the conversations about “balance” in our profession, as I once mentioned in my blog post about “living a blended life.” (https://annmarieklotz.wordpress.com/2012/08/06/why-bound-when-you-can-blend/) Mainly because I believe life is about saying yes—to whatever gives you joy.
Each day we make choices on how we choose to spend our time. There are times where we do have to say no and if we embrace a model of typically saying yes it can be hard to decline a new opportunity, project, invitation, etc. I recently read a fantastic article entitled “”Effective People Say Yes and No” and it listed great examples of how to say no whenever appropriate:
“Effective people have developed ways of saying no that reduce the tension associated with doing so. They tend to set up the conversation in ways like this:
• My first reaction is to say yes, but I’d like to discuss this because I am over extended right now.
• I need to say no to this, but let’s talk because I want to be supportive of you.
• Let me think about what you are asking. I want to say yes, but I’m worried about my ability to deliver right now.
• If there is no other way to get this done, I will do it. But I’d like to talk about it first because it’s not a good fit with my interests and abilities.
• My first reaction is to say no, but let’s talk about it and see where we end up.
The article concludes with the following statement that may serve as the revised version of my previously stated motto:
“So, say yes whenever you can. Deliver each and every time you say yes. Say no when it is the best response. Say no in a way that works for others.”
What are your thoughts about saying yes? How do you balance new opportunities with the realities of day to day obligations?
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