When We Say No

I say No, No, No No, No, No–until I see one

[an investment] that is exactly what I am looking for.  And then I say Yes.  All I have to do is say Yes a few times in my life and I've made my fortune.We say no a thousand times before we can yes.  – Warren Buffett

When we say ‘no', what are we saying ‘yes ‘to?

As a parent, when we say ‘no' to TV before our children play outside, aren't we saying ‘yes' to their physical and emotional health?

As a student, when we say ‘no' to the internship that is handily ours so as to seek out one that isn't,  aren't we saying ‘yes' to discovering new skills so as to be even better prepared for the job market?

If I'm Paula Abdul and I say ‘no' I didn't like that number, am I not saying ‘yes' to my words meaning something?

When we say ‘no' to heading up another committee at school because we are tapped out, aren't we saying ‘yes' to our children and spouse, our self?

If I'm Katie Couric, if I had said ‘no' I won't take the CBS Evening News gig, wouldn't she have been saying ‘yes' to my brand, ‘yes' to why people hire me, ‘yes' to keeping my career on track?   (I confess, however, in response to Stacey P's comment on that post, had I been there, I don't know that I would have done it differently).

Photo courtesy of Andrea Heimer, whose ‘Yes' painting I recently purchased and love

When we say ‘no' to living out the dreams that others (parents, spouse, friends, children) have for us, aren't we saying ‘yes' to the vision we have for our self?  Or at least to figuring out what vision we have for our self?

When we say ‘no', we have said ‘yes' to something else — an emphatic, meaningful ‘yes.'

In learning to say ‘no', we are indeed learning to say ‘yes', not only ‘yes' to others, but ‘yes' to our selves.

To prioritize.
To discern.
To choose.
To be wise.

There's always a ‘yes' on the other side of the ‘no' — who and what are we saying ‘yes' to?

How are we saying yes to our self?

Over the next few hours, every time you say ‘no', will you think about what you are saying ‘yes' to?


Related Posts:
A Down Payment on Our Dream
Learning to Say No
Psyche and Choice


American Idol: Which Judge Are You?

April 22nd, 2008 | Personal

Simon, Paula, Randy.

Each of the American Idol judges has an idiosyncratic approach to critiquing the contestants.

Let's start with Randy.

Randy — Randy likes to remind both the contestants and the audience of his stature as a producer/musician. Expertise is important, but in telling the contestant that they weren't as good as Mariah, Whitney et al. all of whom he's played with, the critique tends to be more about Randy than the contestant.

Paula — Paula gives compliments, lots of them. But because her need to be liked is so palpable, she seems to give to get. This only serves to further discount her already discounted opinion — because she's a woman we expect her to say something nice. Not to mention her often muddled thoughts.


Simon — Simon gives it to the contestants straight up. They know it and we know it and so we trust and value his opinion. Could he be more kind? Absolutely. Is he any less self-interested than Paula or Randy? Probably not.

But in this single moment — when the judges must give feedback to the contestants — providing his honest opinion, and thus maintaining his integrity supersedes asserting his stature or being loved. Ironically, he has become the ‘biggest hitter' and most ‘beloved' of the three.

I know that it is unfair to reduce people to a single trait or characteristic, but if we consider these judges as archetypes, here's the question:

When our husband, daughter, son, friends, co-workers share their dreams with us, haven't they figuratively just sung, and are now waiting for our critique?

If they are dreaming big, do we applaud them? Or do we tell them them we're not sure that they can realize their goal so as to shore up our own self-esteem? Regardless of why we discourage them, is our commentary more about us than them?

Or, are we so eager to be loved, especially as parents, that we aren't willing to be honest. And thus, over time, we are eroding the value of our opinion? For women, finding the balance between being supportive and ‘keeping it real' is especially difficult.

Or do we honor others by giving our honest assessment? With love, mind you — Simon could use a little more love.

There's probably a bit of Randy, Paula and Simon in all of us, depending on who we're interacting with, how we're feeling about ourselves on a particular day, but in general, who do we need more of?

And who do you need more of in your life?


Related Posts:
Why We Love American Idol
Rachel, Leah and ‘So You Think You Can Dance?'
Et tu, Whitney?
Tie-Dye, Daughters and Dreams

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