Have you ever declined an opportunity you knew you should have accepted? Ever said no, and the moment the word left your mouth, you realized you'd made a huge mistake? Do you remember how it made you feel? Honestly, there are few things worse than hearing the doors of opportunity slam shut. Few people can adequately describe the level of dread (and maybe even the self-loathing) that hits you in the wake of a missed opportunity.
My work and business experiences are widely varied because most of my adult life, I've been willing to try things that were completely foreign to me. Perhaps its because of my personality, as I enjoy the thrill of the "new and exciting"...or maybe its the scientist in me. Whether it's a "cool" chemical reaction or the "poof" of an experiment gone wrong, I'd rather take the risk and try than do nothing at all.
It's easy to say no. In fact, that's the problem. Saying "no" allows you to take the easy way out. Rather than accepting the challenge of conquering something new, "no" allows you to stay in your comfort zone. In my book, EntrHERpreneur, I write about comfort zones. They are comprised of all the things that represent safety, security, and stability in our lives, like our daily routines, stable jobs, and familiar environments. Your comfort zone is where you become relaxed and accustomed to the "same old, same old", and if you stay there long enough you'll become stagnant. You won't grow. You wont' change. You won't be exposed to new things and new ways of thinking, and you'll never be pushed to take risks. As long as you're in your comfort zone, you'll do what you've always done, and get the results from life you've always gotten!
From my coaching experience, I've found that "no" allows people to hide behind fear. It gives them permission to retreat from the moment, using excuses like, "I don't know how" or "I don't have the money." Rather than admitting that they're afraid, they come up with other "reasons" to turn down promising opportunities to be and have more. As a result, they end up saying no, even when they want to say yes.
Of course, saying yes opens the door to new opportunities, but there are other benefits as well. The more you say yes, the more accustomed your brain becomes to responding in the affirmative. This helps you negate the power of inertia (or the propensity of an object to maintain its path until something makes it change), by training your mind to be less afraid of trying new things. The brain is wired to keep you from tackling the unknown or taking risks that could possibly have negative outcomes. The more you say yes, however, the more you're able to say yes. Eventually, it will become your knee-jerk reaction to accept new challenges and chances to do new things, rather than reject them.
In a recent talk I gave to a group of women entrepreneurs, I shared 3 ways they could harness the power of yes in their lives immediately. I'd like to share them with you, too.
1. Put the word "no" on the back burner.
Now is the time to remove "no" as your default response to the unknown and start saying yes more. The key to this strategy, however, is knowing when to say yes. You must start by setting boundaries. Your vision statement, mission statement, and Entrepreneurial Calling Statement provide the perfect guide for your decision-making. When you are clear about what you do and why, you'll know when to say yes and when not to. If the job, project, or task falls within the bounds of these statements, you should say yes to it.
2. Create strategic partnerships
Get to know people who do what you do. You’ll be able to partner with them and learn from them. Don't worry that they're your competition! Believe me, there’s enough money for everyone, and not everyone is out to steal your business. Meet similar entrepreneurs, find out how you can support each other's weaknesses, and then work together. As you meet these individuals, create a network of trusted entrepreneurs you can turn to, who can support you and help you get jobs done seamlessly. In doing so, you'll increase your capacity to do work you may not fully have the expertise or resources to do on your own.
3. Be proactive about gathering resources.
Remember I mentioned that people are afraid to say yes because they fear they lack the answers? You can combat this fear if you’re constantly stockpiling information! Then, when someone asks you about a task or project, you'll be more likely to know where to look to find the answers you need. Build your own repository of resources (articles, web sites, blogs, videos, etc.) you can turn to, whether you come across them randomly or during the course of other work. This will become your personal library! Create a folder on your computer called “RESOURCES”, and when you encounter materials of interest, save them so you can remember what they are or search for them later (maybe even years later). These files will be particularly helpful when you're called upon to do something that may be just outside your current knowledge.
Remember, the most influential, successful individuals achieved their status because they were willing to say yes to things others may have declined. Make sure you're not one of the people left behind on the sidelines. Put the power of "yes" to work for you, starting today!
For tools to help you overcome fear, get out of your comfort zone, and write an Entrepreneurial Calling Statement, order your copy of EntrHERpreneur.