Tuesday, October 25, 2011



Wow. That felt good. I know you’re not used to saying “no,” so say it with me.: NOOOOOOOOOOOOO.

Felt good didn’t it? Like a long lost friend. Makes me wonder how we forgot this word in the first place.

I was reminded of the word “no” when I was watching the coverage of the Occupy Wall Street movement. What a crowd. Most way too young to even understand what they are chanting. Reminded me of the anti-war movement of the 60s, except these folks are protesting not having jobs instead of having to go to war.

When asked what they are protesting, the Occupy Wall Street protesters simply state that big business is no good. Big business cheats, steals, lies, colludes (great word), conspires, and generally screws the little people (but not in a good way). The protesters want good jobs, good pay, great benefits, and no or few taxes.

And they want it given to them NOW.

I just have one word for that: No.

It just doesn’t work that way. It never has. NEVER. Things that are given are never valued. That’s why buffets are never fully appreciated. There are too many options, and the options get taken advantage of and underappreciated, so we all end up weighing 400 pounds.

It occurs to me that always being “yes men” is how we found our way into this mess. We have forgotten to say “no,” and we expect a buffet of options to be presented to us at all times. In fact, it has become a favorite pastime of this great nation to sue if we ever hear the word “no”. (I’ve used it 12 times now and am expecting at least 300 lawsuits.)

I confess that I don’t say “no” enough. I don’t always say it to my kids. I don’t always say it to the television. I don’t always say it to donuts.

The truth is that Wall Street hasn’t said “no” enough. A few more “no’s” would have averted the Wall Street collapse. “No’s” would have prevented people from making ill-suited home purchases, which would have lessened the real estate collapse.

“No” keeps us safe, sane, and realistic.

Only in our most recent generations did anyone “expect” a great job with great pay and great benefits. I recall listening to some grad students telling each other that they expected to earn $70,000 just out of school. I heard this and my jaw dropped open. What happened to walking both ways, up hill, barefoot in snow? These grads had no experience and they were worth that money?

Not a chance, but they got it anyway because we live in a “yes” world.

Here’s the deal, if you never hear the word “no,” it’s impossible to demonstrate a commitment to anything. Nothing important happens without some degree of striving. For big thinkers and doers “no” is a test word. Can you get to where you want to go in spite of the “no’s” you hear in everyday life? If the word “no” stops you in your tracks, you just might not want it bad enough. If the answer is always “yes,” why even ask the question?

(Take a second. I know I just dropped a bomb of knowledge on you that will take you awhile to recover from.)

“Yes” stifles innovation and risk. “Yes” promotes the status quo. “No” begets creativity.

Maybe I’m wrong about all of this. Disagree with me please! JUST SAY NO!

Today’s Challenge: Make a list of things in your past that you should have said “no” to instead of “yes”—“no’s” that would have made your life better. Be honest now!

Related Posts:
The Price is Right
What is YOUR Pixie Dust?
Deep Thoughts on Thoughtful Disagreement

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