Back in December I wrote a post on The Art of Saying No. It was in response to an overwhelming number of demands and requests I’d been receiving for me to help with this, retweet that, and come to this event, and so on. It helped me set my mind straight on how to make sure I wasn’t overdoing things.

While it is true that being able to say “no” in the right way, to the right things is an art, there’s most definitely a flip side. That, of course, is saying “yes”.

Yesterday I listened to a fantastic interview on CBC Radio 1’s show Q with The Honourable Pamela Wallin, broadcaster extraordinaire turned foreign diplomat turned Canadian Senator.

For those of you who don’t know her, Ms. Wallin is one of our most famous Canadians. She spent much of her career as one of the most prolific journalists and anchorwomen in the country. Following the September 11th terrorist attacks, Ms. Wallin helped to coordinate rallies and events in support of the people of New York City and thus began her foray into diplomatic relations. Prime Minister Chretien appointed her consul general to the U.S in 2002. She’s a recipient of the Order of Canada, and a cancer survivor. A couple of months ago, Prime Minister Harper appointed her to the Senate of Canada.

How’s that for a few life accomplishments?

On the Q show the other day, Ms. Wallin was asked by interviewer Jian Gnomeshi what she felt was the secret to her success. I loved her response. She said, “I say ‘yes’ a lot.”

As much as I advocate balance when it comes to saying “yes” or “no”, there’s a lot to be said for being a “yes” person. Why? Because you never know what opportunities will unfold by saying that one simple word – yes.

I get asked to do a lot of things in the course of a week. I offer to do a lot of things too. My rule of thumb is, “If it feels like the right thing to do, then do it.” It might be saying “yes” to someone who’s asking me for help. It might be me, offering my assistance to someone (either professionally or personally). The way I see it, if I don’t take that step, nobody’s going to take it for me.

This doesn’t mean you have to say yes to everyone that comes your way and asks for help. Sometimes, delegating is handy for that. Sometimes, what’s being asked of you simply doesn’t fit your schedule or your core values. But more often than not, taking that simple step of “yes” can open doors you never thought possible.

If you are going to work on being more of a “yes” person, there are a few critical elements you must abide by. First, it’s vitally important not to over commit yourself. Look at the plan you have laid out in front of you. Do you have the time/money to really give your all to what’s being asked of you? If you don’t, you may have to reconsider the extent of your “yes”. Why? Because of vitally important thing number two. Do not ever say yes, and then back out. The damage that can do will ripple through in more ways than you can imagine.

In the end, it’s really about one simple thing, something that’s been true in my life in unimaginable ways. The more you give away, the more you get back.

Yesterday, Gary Vaynerchuk posted something on Twitter that resonated with me. He said (and I’m paraphrasing) “6 times a day, people ask me how they’ll know when they’ve ‘made it.’” He posted a link to a video blog he did back in June 2008 on “When do you know you have a community?“. In it, he noses right up to the camera and says, in no uncertain terms (and this is why I love Gary), “You have a community when ONE person listens to you!!”.

While that is very true, I would say there’s another aspect to what defines one as truly having “made it”.

Some would say Pamela Wallin “made it” when she got her first on-air job at CBC. Some would say she “made it” when she became the first female national news bureau chief in Canada. Some would say she “made it” when she survived colon cancer. Still others would say she’s “made it” now that she’s a Senator.

Ms. Wallin and Gary have something in common, and something very valuable to teach us all about success. They are always setting the bar higher.

You’ve really only truly “made it” when you’ve accomplished what you set out to do and you’re ready to move on to the next step in your life’s journey. You’ve made it when you’re ready to accomplish the next thing on your path. Getting to that point is dependent on saying one word, and saying it often.


2 Responses

  1. I love everything you said there, SuzeMuse! I’ve been in the analytical mode for awhile now and setting the bar higher than ever before. Still in the defining mode right now but this post confirms what I’ve been thinking! And you made me into a hummus addict, besides! 🙂

    Julie Walraven’s last blog post..My Journey with LinkedIn

  2. I guess the trick here is in knowing when it is smart to say yes and when it is right to say no. I like your advice on this explaining you say yes if it feels right. I believe our intiution knows better than we do, and it should definitly be listened to more often. Great tips on how, when and why to say both.

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