Tapping into the power of “Yes, and…"

What if you started saying “Yes”? How might things be different if you started saying “yes” much more than “no” to those opportunities, challenges, risks, and requests you face every day and either refuse directly or by avoidance?

Are you afraid to go for a new position at the department?  Just say, “No, I probably wouldn’t have gotten it anyway, or what if I did and hated it?  Better to stay where I am.”

Have you always wanted to start up a business, or market yourself and your skills as a trainer, writer, or consultant, but you’re nervous about how you’d do?  Just say, “No, the risk is just too great and I’ll probably fail, so why not just shelve those silly pipedreams?” 

Your daughter’s softball team needs a new coach and she has been begging you to take it on – you were all-conference in college, after all – but you work really hard giving and serving the community all day, and you’re tired, and you’re not really comfortable with other peoples’ kids, and… .  Just say, “No, it might be kind of fun, and I could bond with the kid, but someone else will step up and do just fine.  She’ll understand that Mom’s busy with work.  Besides, they’re teenagers; they don’t want to be coached by a COP, do they?” 

Your wife has been saying she wants more time with you, and keeps proposing classes, weekend getaways, and day trips together, but none of them are really your cup of tea.  Now she wants to take a ballroom dancing class and you know you’ll never be able to do that.  Just say, “No, I have two left feet and I’d only embarrass myself.  Maybe she’ll keep suggesting new things until there’s something I’d like to do.  I’m really tired after work, anyway…”

Of course, these are only a few simple examples; the list of what most of us will reflexively say “no” to is extensive.  But what if you, or the sample officers who might fit the bill for the above scenarios, started saying “Yes”?  How might things be different if we started saying “yes” much more than “no” to those opportunities, challenges, risks, and requests we face every day that we either refuse directly or by avoidance?  And what if we started saying not just “yes, but really “Yes, Anding…” a whole lot more. 

“I’m putting in for that school resource officer position (YES), and I’ll make myself a better candidate by getting certified as a Juvenile Officer, even if I have to pay for it myself…

“Now’s the perfect time to start up that security consulting business I’ve always dreamed of; I’m employed full time, so I can start slowly and learn as I go (YES), and maybe I’ll ask a couple of the guys from work if they’d like to get in on the ground floor…

“I was a great player in my day; I bet I’d be a great coach now (YES), and I can be a great female role model for those girls while presenting a positive image of cops to them

“She’s been a great wife who supports my career all this time.  She really wants to do this so I can suck it up and learn to dance a little bit.  Maybe it will be fun after all (YES), and maybe she’ll still want to take that cooking class she was talking about, too, I bet we could have a good time doing that together.”

In each of these examples, instead of saying “no” the central character not only says “yes” but then raises the stakes.  They’re starting to take a good idea and improvise an even better and more vibrant idea out of it.  When you begin to do this consistently you just might, as Colbert says about Improv, find yourself surprised with where you find yourself going, professionally and personally.

This might seem like an ridiculously simple concept.  And it is on the surface but, deep down, we tend to be skeptical.  We resist new ideas, and complicate simple concepts with our own hang-ups and emotional baggage.  We cling to bad habits.

We’re going to explore The Power of “Yes, and…” more deeply in our next article.  In the meantime, begin taking stock of all those things you so routinely say “no” to.  Ask yourself why, and if maybe saying “yes” a little more might not make life a little brighter for you.

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