Why Do We Talk Ourselves Out of Yes?

Reading time 4 minutes

A conversation in a comfy, sticky chair with a talkative stranger reminds me of how important it is to say yes to your goals. Like, in real life. Not that BS, adrenaline-fueled yes that doesn’t go farther than your lips. 

I took my daughters to the mall Friday and instead of working on a book (which I intended to do), I engaged the man next to me in an interesting conversation about mind, body and spirit. Keith was his name. And we talked for a good hour before he posed the question that leveled me. He asked me “What do you really want?” I didn’t answer. “Million dollars? Big house? Fancy car? What? What do you want?”

I started to speak… and NOTHING CAME OUT! #Fail

He chuckled compassionately. “Come on! You already know what you want!”

“Yeah,” I said, “But I want to be sure I know what I want,” I said and I only sorta knew what I meant.

“Awww,” he said smiling. He seemed a little disappointed. After all, I’d been talking a good game for like, an hour.

How horrific!

I know exactly what I want. I was stumped as to why I couldn’t say it out loud. Then it hit me. I don’t believe it’s possible. Cognitively, I know my publishing company is days away. In my gut, my soul, my spirit, my heart – all the places where goals matter – I couldn’t summon up enough conviction to speak the dream out loud.

Good Lord, Sorilbran, when was the last time you had a great idea that you didn’t talk yourself out of? 

The typical routine for most of us goes a little something like this: We get a great idea. We ponder that idea. We may even share it with a close friend for feedback. But inevitably, we reach the point where we must make a decision. Either we’re going to move forward by acting on the idea or we start tearing the idea apart to convince ourselves that the risks outweigh the benefits. 

We stop a great idea dead in its tracks and spend another year or two or ten at the same socio-economic level. Rinse and repeat, ad nauseam.

“Yes” Matters (Here’s yet another story about Richard Branson, folks…)

Richard Branson is filthy rich, madly successful and insanely interesting. The eccentric founder of Virgin Group goes by the nickname “Dr. Yes” because he has a reputation for saying yes to even the wildest, most outrageous business ideas.

His first venture was an underground newspaper that he and a friend launched as teenagers. Now, 40+ years and 400+ businesses later, he is one of the most intriguing, culturally relevant and well-respected business magnates on the planet. His net worth is in the billions of dollars.

Dr. Yes has this to say: “I’m inquisitive; I love learning about new things. So, you know, we have ended up with sort of 300 or 400 companies…”

Sort of 300 or 400 companies.

How does a high school dropout whose claim to fame was running a newspaper become a man whose portfolio includes ownership of banks, telecommunications companies, a record label, an airline, railways and a space exploration company?  

By saying yes. With conviction. With everything in him. With his head and his gut. 

One of Branson’s core business philosophies is if he can map it out quickly on the back of an envelope and the plan makes sense, it’s worth it to say yes and move forward on the idea.

No Cheating: It’s Not a Yes if You  Don’t Tell Somebody 

After you say yes, it’s time to spread the news. For two good reasons:

1. Accountability

2. Progress.

There is no point in doing something new if you don’t also create a plan for getting the word out. It is impossible to sell a product or idea no one knows about. So you’re going to have to make considerable efforts to create a marketing plan that draws attention to your products, ideas, your life, your business and yourself.

Where’s your courage, girlie? Developing the willingness and ability to put yourself out there is tough. I mean, rejection is very real. And can be painful if you haven’t learned to make the distinction between yourself and your mission. But what’s more painful is looking back on your life and being disappointed to have lived your life in fear.

You have to know what value you offer, believe in your idea enough to market it to total strangers, and deliver on your promise.

Intellectually, I think most of us are aware of the process. It’s pulling the trigger that gives us the problem.

So what’s the thing I want to do that was so big, so crazy, so frightening that I couldn’t own up to it? Let’s talk about it later.