The Joy of Saying YES!!
Come on, you know you want to do something. In my coaching practice, I see highly accomplished professionals from across a variety of industries – people who are capable of getting things done – stymied when it comes to doing something for themselves. Does that sound familiar to you? Why is it that you don’t follow Nike's advice and just do it?
Just today, I saw a client who exemplifies one such reason many people face. Linda is a hugely successful entrepreneur in the financial services industry. She’s managed billions of dollars in assets for her clients. Yet, when it came to doing some homework to help advance her own personal and professional goals, she found herself resisting – until she caught herself in the act. At first, she saw this exercise as just another stress-inducing task that was taking her away from tackling her epic to-do list. But when she stopped to think about it, she said to herself, “Hey, this is for ME!” When she realized addressing her own well-being was deserving of topping the list, she was able to attack the project with genuine enthusiasm.
My Latest HBR Article: Use Your Head AND Heart to Make Important Decisions
Still others don’t believe they deserve the object of their desire. Once again, it requires the effort to notice when you are saying no to yourself and to pay attention to why you are doing so. You can’t make any changes until you are aware of what you are doing. Once you see how your own thoughts or behaviors are standing in your way, you can make a different choice. One tendency I’ve observed is that many people feel like they have to eat their metaphorical vegetables before they have their dessert. My friend Jean was able to say “yes!” and fulfill a lifelong dream. Now she can be seen zipping around town and even speeding around a racetrack in her new sports car. She’s having a blast!
You have a big career decision to make. Maybe you’ve been offered an exciting new opportunity — on the other side of the country. Or maybe you’ve been unhappy in your job and need a change — but haven’t been able to find inspiring alternatives.
Several of the professionals I’ve coached share a common struggle: how to make major decisions that balance career growth with satisfaction in other domains of their lives. While it’s often easy to see the impact a certain choice will have on objective criteria such as duties, position, prestige, salary, and opportunities for advancement, evaluating the “softer” considerations is tougher. But things like cultural fit, the quality of interactions with colleagues, ability to exert influence, and impact on family and social life, all deeply affect how personally satisfied someone feels with their work.
To help my clients take an objective look at decidedly subjective considerations, I’ve developed a tool that allows them to quantify and visualize the pros and cons of various choices — taking into consideration the impact each would have on matters of both heart and head.
Here’s how I used it with a physician I’ll call Dinesh. He was feeling stuck trying to decide whether he should continue working in his current position at a prestigious academic medical center, which he truly enjoyed, or accept an exciting leadership position at a nearby community hospital. Dinesh was weighing some pretty standard “head” issues of salary, resources, leadership potential, commute, and call schedules. But he knew this was a huge change and needed to evaluate the more feelings-based issues such as how much would he would enjoy his new colleagues, have the flexibility to manage his workload, and be able to prioritize family time, etc. Some of his “heart” issues also included his self-image as it related to “just” being a busy, highly regarded clinician vs. being seen as a leader with broader influence beyond his own patient care responsibilities.
“Cynics always say no. Saying yes leads to knowledge. So for as long as you have the strength to, say yes.."
-- Stephen Colbert