Let’s get something out of the way.
No lacks challenge. No lacks inspiration. No lacks grit.
Many people spend much of their time perfecting the are of dissuasion. They use a number of reasons — from finances to fear — to convince themselves that the juice isn’t worth the squeeze. You may be one of those people. I certainly was.
I was asked to teach overseas. “No.”
I was asked to move away from family and friends. “No.”
I was asked to give up a job to travel for money with no guarantee. “No.”
There are many other situations in my life that read like this. As a result, I lost out on great memories, great friends, and great opportunities. Now, don’t read this like a letter of regret. It’s not. I’m thrilled with my life both professionally and personally. It’s because I finally found my “Yes.” I discovered the courage to stop dissuading myself from the possibilities of tomorrow because of the fear of uncertainty. That was my reason for “No.”
I was asked to help start a company. “Yes.”
I created other great memories, made other great friends, and created new wonderful opportunities. There were no circumstances that really separate the yes from the no other than finding the courage to embrace uncertainty. This isn’t a license to abdicate responsibilities you have or to drop everything on a whim. It’s to prepare yourself for the next event, circumstance, or opportunity that arises so you can commit and make things happen for yourself, not to move back to things you passed on or to beat yourself up for the what could have beens.
To find your Yes, you need to find what causes the No. In order to do so, you need go through a few rounds of asking yourself the root. More often than not, mine was fear. You may find yours to be the same.
No — Being too far from my relationship.
The fear of loss. I focused on all of the things that I would lose, especially the long-term relationship I had built. I was convinced that she wouldn’t move to a foreign country. I was convinced that long-distance would absolutely not work. I was convinced that I’d sacrifice what future I thought I had for a completely different future.
I could’ve found my Yes in the fact that, if she couldn’t make things work for me to pursue this great opportunity, we weren’t meant to be. That I would find new people, make new friends, and build new relationships in this new opportunity. The fact that I would be able to put this on my resume and return to the states with an experience few other educators would have.
MOVE FROM MY FAMILY
No — I wouldn’t know anybody.
The fear of loneliness. My attention immediately fell to the idea that I’d be a plane ticket away from my family and friends; thus, I was convinced that it would be too much to start from scratch for new friends and too arduous to make trips home in order to see my family. I was convinced that I wouldn’t be able to establish myself, my identity, in a completely new city.
I could’ve found my Yes in the fact that the job paid well enough to even fly family to me. That communications tools would allow virtual face-to-face conversations with friends. There really wasn’t much to sacrifice other than the fear that I’d wake up and go to bed hundreds of miles from familiarity.
LEAVE MY JOB
No — Too challenging for my circumstances.
The fear of failure. I told myself everything: I have bills, have a responsibility, have little time, have not enough talent, have not enough money to begin with. I convinced myself of the horrors of leaving a 9-5 to sleep in my car or a motel, to endlessly travel from city to city, to really grind and hustle. I was convinced that, no matter what I did, I would fail in this endeavor. And I allowed myself to get lazy and further cement that fear. Now, I didn’t even have the work ethic!
I could’ve found my Yes in the strength of others. That what I would embark on wouldn’t be solo journey of self-defeat, but an adventure among friends to, if only for a few years, live a dream that we all had as kids.
HELP START A COMPANY
N… — Wait a minute.
The thrill of potential. I knew the root cause was that I would have no safety net. I still had those same bills, same responsibilities, a new and wonderful relationship — everything that was on the line for each No was on the line now. The difference is that I found my Yes. I found it in the faith of my fiance. I found it in the resolve that I would do all that I could to make this work. I found it in the notion that, even if we did fail, we did was so few people ever take the chance to do. I found it in the limitless potential of how this could grow, how I could grow, and what I could do. I found it in friends. I found it in family.
I found Yes in myself to see the things that could be, not the ones I manifested would be.
Now it’s your turn to look yourself in the mirror the next time an opportunity comes your way. A challenge. Something uncertain. Something you have a passion for. And you need to cast aside whatever is holding you back and find your Yes among the things and people around you, what’s within you, and work hard as hell, inspire yourself and others, and overcome challenges every step of that way.
Yes is challenging. Yes takes inspiration. Yes requires grit.