Yes, No or Know

I was in a yoga class the other day in Denver, and like most classes that I go to the teacher starts out class with some story or theme. Something to get you to think, to inspire you or to somehow help you along your journey. And, this teacher’s message, like so many self-development gurus, was to say “yes” to everything. To lean into everything. To say yes to every opportunity that comes across desk (or phone). It might be a direct connection to pursue something we want or it might be an opportunity to really get out of your comfort zone and grow.

Kevin Eastman, Vice President of Basketball Operations for the Los Angeles Clippers has said on numerous occasions “Never say ‘No’ to a basketball opportunity”. His NBA career started because he said “yes” to speaking last minute (like 24 hours before) to speaking at a Nike Basketball Clinic. And this could apply to anyone. Whether you are trying to become a speaker, start a new business or develop your basketball coaching career — this is great advice. This one opportunity to could to lead to the next — each opportunity is a stepping stone. It’s never ever a straight line shot from where you’re at to where you want to be.

On the other hand, some tell us to say “no” to most opportunities. To spend our time in our areas of highest contribution. The further we move along in our career this advice is more beneficial because we usually are getting better opportunities. Sometimes it’s the difference between saying no to a really good opportunities to pursue another “really good” opportunity because it just feels better. Tony Robbins says “our problems don’t go away. We just get better problems”. This is similar. We have to learn that saying “no” and being selfish with our time is actually our highest form of service. To everyone around else and ourselves. If we don’t take care of our own energy we can’t give it away to anyone else. We can’t serve.

But, the real advice should be this.

Not say “yes” or “no” , but “Know yourself”.

And, know what you want. Is saying ‘yes’ to this lunch meeting, social opportunity or new business venture the right thing for you? Or more importantly, is it the right thing for you at this time. One year ago this might have been the best opportunity for you in the world, but right now is it the best opportunity for you? We have to remember that saying “no” also means saying “yes” to something else. That might mean space in your schedule or simply time for yourself to recharge or spend time with your family.

The more time I spend in meditation the more I get to know myself. I get to know what is best for me (or our business) in this moment, but also with an awareness in the background of what is best for the long-term vision. With practice I have an increased ability to hold both of these in my awareness at the same time. More self-awareness and more awareness of everything that is going on around me. Meditation physically changes our brain to make us less reactive, help us pause more, be more present and respond from a place of thoughtfulness. It’s not that we aren’t aware — we’re just constantly reacting to things. We don’t take the time to pause, which creates the awareness. So if you want to do what’s best for yourself you need to get to know yourself first. My suggestion? Meditation.