Learning How To Say Yes To No

Posted on Thursday July 18, 2013

Eight years ago this December, I said yes to my wife. To be her wedded husband, to have and to hold, you know the drill… On that day when I said yes to Katie, I was also saying no to every other woman that could possibly come my way.

Soon after, I began to learn that my yes’s started to define my no’s and the same is true for us in all aspects our lives whether we realize it or not. When you or I say yes to something we are also saying no to other things.

You and I can only do so much. We can only give so much time and energy to our work, to a cause, to anything really. That is why it is important to learn how to say yes to no.

Given the choice of doing a few “great” things or handfuls of “good” things, I think most of us would choose great every single time. Yet this begs the question, are you and I busying our lives with so many things that we cannot say no to that we do not have time for something great?

Vision Brings Clarity

So what should we be saying yes to? I think it all starts with vision.

Andy Stanley says in his book Visioneering that vision is “a clear mental picture of what could be, fueled by the conviction of what should be.”

So what could be in my life and your life?

What should be in my life and your life?

Ultimately, what must be in my life and your life?

As a man, I know that everyday I battle this idea that my career is what defines me, maybe you’ve battled this as well. It is so easy to look at what we produce as the defining measurement for our life. The danger with this is we start to become a “human-doing” instead of a human-being.

This is why choosing what we give our lives to vocationally matters. With a proper perspective, we should be free from the idea of work defining us and instead start to let our work define the impact we have in others’ lives.

So I’ll ask you again, what is the vision for your life?

Taking Inventory

What are you saying yes to today, that really you should be saying no to?

Are you in a place where you cannot give your life to something great because you are too busy with good?

Each day, I am personally challenged by this idea and just so you know, I am not there yet. But I am learning that with each passing day to focus on a vision for my life and then start saying yes to things that get me closer to realizing it.

The methods may change, but the vision rarely does. Jeff Bezos, Founder and CEO of Amazon said it like this: “We are stubborn on vision. We are flexible on details.”