A recent article on Inc.com by Kevin Daum, "9 Amazing Pieces of Success Advice From Stephen Colbert," is filled with great advice from one of the funniest and most influential people on television. The quote that really stood out for me, though, was this:
"Young people who pretend to be wise to the ways of the world are mostly just cynics. Cynicism masquerades as wisdom, but it is the furthest thing from it, because cynics don't learn anything. Cynicism is self-imposed blindness, a rejection of the world because we're afraid it will hurt us or disappoint us. Cynics always say 'no.' But saying 'yes' begins things. Saying 'yes' is how things grow. Saying 'yes' leads to knowledge. 'Yes' is for young people. So, for as long as you have the strength, say 'YES'."
Stephen Colbert is a man who not only has a successful career in television, he (or his character) has managed to run for president, get his portrait displayed in the Smithsonian, testify before Congress, and help fund every grant requested by a teacher in South Carolina, among many other accomplishments, both humorous and serious.
And why? Because he kept saying yes.
Not every yes is going to be life-changing, but saying yes keeps the door open. It allows for and welcomes opportunities when they arrive, rather than shutting them out before we have a chance to see them.
If you pay attention, it becomes clear how conditioned we are to say no. Maybe it starts in childhood with our parents using that word with us constantly, but it's unfortunate that most of us never make the effort to overcome it. A no is usually backed up by a dozen solid (or not) excuses, reasons that we've used to justify fear and an unwillingness to take risks.
A life of no is an effort to keep from changing.
No keeps us comfortable, for awhile, until change forces itself in — which it will always do, eventually. By then we're so accustomed to our self-imposed status quo that change becomes very hard to deal with. If we're living with yes, constantly inviting and accepting opportunities for change, we're teaching ourselves to roll with life's wild punches when they strike.
Living in a yes world doesn't mean you have to accept things you truly don't want. But saying yes to opportunities — invitations to lunch, business meetings, trips around the world or just next door — makes your "no" more powerful when you do use it, and it keeps life interesting and fun.
What if you said "Yes!" for the next 30 days?
Not stupidly, not dangerously, but taking your inclination toward no and saying yes instead. Yes, I'll go to the party. Yes, I'll take a pole dancing fitness class. Yes, I'll taste that squid. Yes, let's book the trip. Yes, I'll go shopping with you. Yes, you can draw on my leg with a permanent marker. Yes, I'll have a cookie. Yes, I'll help with the garage sale. Yes, let's go to that meeting. Yes, let's learn more. Yes?
Share one of your "yes" moments with us. When did you have an impulse to say no, but you fought it back and said yes, then something wonderful happened?