Lead with a YES

Many years ago, when my oldest daughter was small, a family friend offered to take her to a local amusement park. Our daughters were the same age and it was a nice opportunity for them to hang out a bit and get to know each other better. The trip would also include a trip to the waterpark and I was initially hesitant. It seemed a bit chilly for the waterpark. I said “no” and then was quick quickly called out by the other mom. “What was the harm?” she asked. “You should think about saying ‘yes’ more often.”

And I thought about that really quickly and looked at her and said “you know what, you’re right.” And my daughter went off with them and had a great day. It may have been a bit chilly, but what 7 year old cares about that when they can ride water slides for the afternoon and then spend the rest of the day playing games and riding the rest of the rides? None, I can assure you.

BK (Before Kids), I had always been the first to say YES. Want to take a road trip across the state to see a high school friend at her college? Yes. Want to go across the border to Canada to drink beers and meet boys? Yes. Want to enter that wet t-shirt contest? Yes. Want to kiss the guy at the end of the bar who has been giving you the eye all night even though you can’t remember his name? Yes, please. Want to ride to a different college in the middle of the night with your best college buddy and a couple rugby players? Yes. (DAMN RIGHT, says MaryAnn!)

So what had changed me? Motherhood? Adulthood? Student loan debt and a mortgage? The baby weight that I never fully lost? Maybe all of it.

But the lesson was clear, I needed to start saying yes more. All the time, in fact. Professionally, it never left me. I have always applied that rule to my professional life. In my career in account and project management, I am known as the lady who leads with a YES. Now, don’t confuse my yes with some sort of misguided enthusiasm that gets the team into trouble. No sir, far from it. My yes is about being open to a new idea, a new approach. When the client asks for a change or an enhancement, they are always greeted with a positive response. Can-do is my life professionally, people. Every colleague and client I’ve ever had will concur. Will it always be easy? Will we perhaps rethink that great idea or pivot on it a bit. Yes, yes we might. The bottom line is that the idea will be greeted initially with encouragement.

But in my personal life…that was in need of some re-tooling. YES needed to make a comeback. Happily, I lead more often with the yes than the no. My soul needs the yes. At my core, I am yes.

Yes to that trip to the beach with my girls.

Yes to drinks with the girls from the office on a work night.

Yes to that Disney cruise.

Yes to flirtation.

Yes to skinny dipping.

Yes to that dirty martini.

Yes to that purple streak in my hair (I’m 48, not 88, people).

Yes to the heels.

Yes to showing some cleavage.

Yes to all the hats.

Yes to fun and laughter and more great stories. Because not one fun story ever started with a no.

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