By Lisa Nichols, CEO
The Power of YES
I don’t know about you, but it seems that for many of us there is always another event to attend, another person to meet, another committee to join. When you factor in your spouse, spending time with your children (or grandchildren), holidays, work, community commitments and so much more, it begins to add up and can sometimes feel quite overwhelming. This year especially, I have thought on these things. You never know what tomorrow will bring, and quite often our best-laid plans can fall by the wayside, depending on what “unknowns” surface.
However, what I think has helped me whenever I have felt overextended and overwhelmed is to return to the principles and priorities I have already established in my mind and heart. One of my very favorite object lessons is the age-old “rocks in the jar” lesson. This becomes a very personal decision for each person, as everyone has different priorities. The major lesson here is to figure out the big rocks (your most important priorities – faith, family, fitness or whatever those are) and put those in the jar first – before you begin to fill up the jar with pebbles and sand. If you start with the less important priorities, there will be no room for the big rocks. What are those rocks on which you will not compromise? How much time will you devote to each? How much margin (and I am not just talking time – I am also referring to energy) remains? The older I get the more I realize how healthy it is to intentionally create “white space” for new endeavors and plain rest.
When opportunities present themselves that fall outside of the big rocks, an apparent easy route to take would be to just say “no.” Saying no is not always easy though, as most of us don’t want to disappoint those requesting our help or commitment. If we adopt “no” as our favorite go-to answer, I am afraid we may miss out on the far-reaching benefits that the alternative has to offer. I have witnessed the power of “yes” countless times as well as the joy and benefits that have resulted from saying “yes.” I think the best way to demonstrate this power is through a few stories.
- After much prompting from our millennial employees, Technology Partners launched the very first episode of the “Something Extra” podcast in October 2018. We have just completed our 63rd episode and I will say that professionally speaking, it is one of the most rewarding and fun ways I spend my time these days. Personally, I have always loved people and am fascinated by their stories. Through the “Something Extra” podcast, we have the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of our listeners through the power of other leaders’ stories on a weekly basis. I am so glad that we said, “yes” to this opportunity.
- Sometimes clients have needs that require a quick reaction. In situations where this is the case, making a “yes” decision promptly and with confidence can be essential to winning the business. Recently, Technology Partners had an opportunity with a major client that required a remarkably quick turnaround. Without hesitation, one of our Practice Directors volunteered to build a prototype over a weekend in order to show the client what was possible. Because he was able to not only articulate, but also demonstrate the possibilities, the client felt very comfortable with the decision to award Technology Partners the work. His saying “yes” and going the extra mile helped us secure the contract.
- This year, we made an investment in a nonprofit group called Books N’ Bros. The team there was in desperate need of technical equipment including a significant number of laptops. Given the quantity, it was not an inexpensive endeavor. We said “yes” to helping with the laptops and now many young men will have the tools they need to move the needle on their Growth Quotient. In addition, this decision dovetailed perfectly into our vision for our L.I.F.T. initiative (Lives Impacted Futures Transformed).
- The last story I’d like to share involves our youngest daughter, Ally. In 2018, the board of the Independence Center of St. Louis, asked us to consider letting Ally dance in the 2019 Dancing with the St. Louis Stars event while we raised money for this annual fundraiser. After discussing this opportunity with Ally and getting her enthusiastic “buy-in,” we said “yes.” Ally discovered a newfound love and passion for ballroom dancing through preparing for the January competition and has continued to dance in other competitions this year such as the Mayor’s Ball. She will dance the encore now in the upcoming 2020 competition. By the way, she won the 2019 Dancing with the St. Louis Stars. Her zeal was contagious, and we were told by many how encouraged and inspired they were after watching her dance. If we had not said “yes” we would have missed out on the possibilities for her. Here’s a quick clip from her performance.
Each of these blessings stemmed from a “yes.” However, Greg and I have had plenty of opportunities that have presented themselves where we have said “no” or at least, “not now.” I don’t care what cape you are wearing; it is not humanly possible nor is it prudent to commit to everything. If you try, I guarantee you that some of the big rocks (those most important priorities) will suffer and you may possibly even face burn out. Ultimately, it is not about the number of things you agree to, but whether or not they align with your principles and timing for this season of your life. There are seasons where some endeavors make more sense than others–recognizing this and accepting this truth can bring a lot of freedom in decision making. Life has so much to offer us. It is a privilege to have so many choices to which we can say “yes.” The real challenge is in making sure we choose wisely.
So, let me ask you, what does your outlook for 2020 look like? How do you approach all that is requested of you? How much “white space” do you intentionally build in so you can say “yes” to a few new things? Saying “yes” to the right things can unleash powerful possibilities and create immediate impact for the present, while in many cases, lasting impact for future generations.