Just Say Yes


This post is based on my inspiration at the April meeting of the Palos Verdes Chapter of National Charity League.

As parents, we spend a lot of time saying no. Right? Especially to our kids.

  • No, you can’t stay up all night.
  • No, you can’t miss school today because you didn’t finish your homework.
  • No, you can’t have friends over while I’m not home.

And we often say no to ourselves.

  • No, I can’t take time for myself.
  • No, I’d never be good at painting, dancing or other fill-in-the-blank activity
  • No, I can’t pursue my dreams while my kids are growing up.

But what if we paused and asked ourselves if there was a way we could say yes?

In my daughter’s freshman year in high school, she texted me the day before Halloween.

“Mom,” it read, “can I dye my hair for Halloween?”

Whaaaat? Visions of neon colors flashed across my eyes. And not in a good way.

I took a deep breath. And another. Then I responded. “What color?” I asked. The reply? “Brown. And it’s semi-permanent, so it’ll rinse out.”

What a relief. This was something I could say “yes” to. In these high school years, I’ve looked for times I can say yes. Then when I have to say no, my daughter won’t be able to say, “but you always say no.” Or, “you never say yes.”

In fact, “You never say yes to anything” was the catalyst for BIG changes in the life of Shonda Rhimes. She’s the creator, writer and producer of hit TV shows including Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal.

One Thanksgiving, as Shonda mentioned yet another invitation she’d declined, her sister muttered, “you never say yes to anything.”

Thus began Shonda’s “year of yes.” She decided for a whole year, she would say yes to anything that scared her.

Some of her invitations aren’t things that would happen to us – or at least not to me. Being the commencement speaker at Dartmouth. Going on the Jimmy Kimmel show. Joining Oprah for Super Soul Sunday. Losing 127 pounds!

But others very much speak to our lives. She decided whenever one of her 3 daughters asked her to play, she’d stop whatever she was doing and she would play.

She says after 15 minutes, your kids have had enough playtime, so you can go back to what you were doing. When she had this epiphany, she was in a ball gown about to head to a TV awards show. But she sat down, and she played.

Her TED talk explores the life-changing experience of play in her “year of yes.”

Here’s what she wrote about happiness.

“We believe happiness lies in following the same list of rules. In being more like everyone else. That? Is wrong. There is no list of rules. There is one rule. The rule is: there are no rules.

Happiness comes from living as you need to, as you want to. As your inner voice tells you to. Happiness comes from being who you actually are instead of who you think you are supposed to be. Don’t apologize. Don’t explain. Don’t ever feel less than.

When you feel the need to apologize or explain who you are, it means the voice in your head is telling you the wrong story. Wipe the slate clean. And rewrite it.

No fairy tales. Be your own narrator. And go for a happy ending. One foot in front of the other. You will make it.”

In closing, what will you say yes to today?

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Caroline Leach

Hi, I'm Caroline Leach. I help people and organizations tell their stories. I'm a Marketing VP at AT&T, a former Communications VP at DIRECTV and an alum of the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. This blog, How to Build Your Career through Social Media, shows you how to build your personal brand, advance your career and embrace your future. It helps you promote your employer and your network too. Opinions expressed in this blog are my own. Your comments are welcomed and encouraged. I'd love to hear from you!

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