Do I have a problem saying no? Do you? DK makes me practice saying this line: “Oh, I wish I could…” It doesn’t always work. I have a couple of issues with the whole “no” concept. The first one is that I noticed when I was a mom of many young children that I had gotten into what I termed “no mode.” You know how little people are constantly asking for things… for attention… to go places… to buy everything they see in a commercial on TV… and the list goes on. And so the word “no” became the default response to any given question. Whatever it is, NO. And I realized at some point, that while it is important to say no at times to keep kids safe, and to avoid that sense of entitlement kids get when they know that they can have anything they want, whenever they want it… there was simply no good reason to always say no. Instead my new strategy was to say yes whenever I could. That opened up new possibilities for activities to do. If there was something they really wanted to buy, then we could strategize how we might accomplish that. They could play with friends more often than not, and yes, the friends could even come in our backyard, if they could figure a way to negotiate past the badly-behaved golden retriever to reach the trampoline. So I really don’t care for the default “no” mode. I think I have solved that issue over the years. The answer is: if it is for family, I will try to say yes as often as I possibly can.
But the second and more complicated issue is when people who are not my family ask for my time. DK just sent me this quote from a blog by Seth Godin:
“If you've got talent, people want more of you. They ask you for this or that or the other thing. They ask nicely. They will benefit from the insight you can give them. The choice: You can dissipate your gift by making the people with the loudest requests temporarily happy, or you can change the world by saying 'no' often. You can say no with respect, you can say no promptly and you can say no with a lead to someone who might say yes. But just saying yes because you can't bear the short-term pain of saying no is not going to help you do the work. Saying no to loud people gives you the resources to say yes to important opportunities.”
Hmm. I see the wisdom in this. I do. And I have gotten better. I don’t volunteer to bring the refreshments nearly as often. I don’t feel compelled to volunteer for the PTA… been there and done that. But what happens when the stake presidency (the area church leader) tells me that if I won’t play for the stake Christmas music program (which involves many, many hours over a six-week period), that they don’t know what they will do, because no one else can play the music the same way that I can, and the program will suffer. My first thought is, then they should select some easier music. But my second thought is, several hundred people attend this stake concert, and it has to be held to a higher standard than a small program might. Beyond that, I have agreed to dedicate my time, my talents, and anything else with which I have been blessed. And I am not trying to brag, but it is a fact that I have been blessed with, and have worked to develop, a lot of skills that are in demand. I know that when I agree to teach a class, or to play for a meeting, that I can bring something extra…something special to the task, that will benefit and many times bring the spirit to others.
So what is the answer? How do you find balance between yes... and no?